Boston's Alternative Source! image!

R: ARCHIVE, S: MOVIES, D: 04/08/1999,

Never Been Kissed

This kind of dippy, silly drivel has no right to succeed, yet it does despite a bumbling plot, a predictable conclusion and a contrivance behind every door. How and why the film becomes a "guilty pleasure" can be summarized in four letters: D R E W. It's Drew Barrymore's indomitable effervescence that elevates Never Been Kissed from the flailing ranks of Jawbreaker to the nerdy, hip sweetness of She's All That.

Drew plays Josie, a prolific, 25-year-old copy editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. She's a life-long introvert -- as the title implies, she's never "really" been kissed -- who yearns to spread her career wings and get a little excitement by hitting the streets as a reporter. Her wish is granted when the paper's eccentric managing editor (played wonderfully over-the-top by Garry Marshall) tosses her an undercover assignment to go back to high school and get the scoop on the popular kids. Known as "Grossy Josie" in her school days, our intrepid heroine readily falls back into stride, hanging out with the school's gaggle of geeks and becoming a member of the "Denominators" math team. It's not until her slacker brother (David Arquette) enrolls at school, ascends to the throne of "Mr. Popularity," and gives his sister's public image a much needed boost that Josie becomes prom-queen material, prompting romantic interest from both the school hipster and her hunky, sensitive English teacher. The goofy, ugly-duckling-to-swan-princess formula strains awkwardly to entwine an EDtv subplot and parallel threads from As You Like It, but none of that really matters because Never Been Kissed is all about Drew.

-- Tom Meek