Saturday, March 21, 2009
Inexplicable movie review - Freshman Fall
As far as era snapshots go, Freshman Fall (a.k.a. She Cried No, apparently) is incredible. Not because the movie is well-done or realistic, but because it has all of the horrible benchmarks of a strict, by-the-numbers 1990s health film. It is incredible because is it neither well-done or realistic, and strives for both. Colossal failure is just as interesting to me as colossal success.
A one-line summary: DJ from Full House is raped by Zack Morris from Saved By The Bell. This is not to be confused with No One Would Tell, in which DJ is beaten and killed by Fred Savage from The Wonder Years. In this one, DJ is a freshman in college and is raped within 20 minutes, leaving another 74 for the movie to twist and turn in faux drama and ridiculousness.
The movie is odd and awful, but my oddest and awfullest thoughts center around DJ. First, how is she typecast in this sort of role? It's not a Macaulay Culkin situation, where his parents were forcing him into taking a bunch of roles for cash. DJ was 20 when she took this role, so she would presumably understand all of the implications. I suppose the thought was that her image would lend the credibility, but if anything, its traumatizing to see Zack from Saved By The Bell brutally force himself on DJ. How rude! He should really cut it out. Elton and Steve would have never tried that shit.
DJ simply doesn't work in the movie, which is why I keep calling her DJ. It's just impossible to rectify her squeaky clean image on Full House to that of a "normal girl" who's taken advantage of in college. Even with a full-body shot of DJ's tight body in the gym (seriously), all of her mannerisms scream, "DJ Tanner, I'm DJ Tanner, in case you forgot!" In doesn't help in her few non-Full House appearances, Candace Cameron seems incredibly likable and sweet. By all accounts, DJ is exactly the character she plays on Full House.
This doesn't affect every actor. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack) is strangely creepy and charming as The Rapist Scott Baker. (That would be a great sports nickname, except for the raping part.) This is probably why he's been able to land other roles (NYPD Blue) somewhat consistently despite his start as Zack Morris.
But the other aspect that makes Freshman Fall so horrible is the faint hint of authenticity throughout. If you squint hard enough, or didn't experience the era firsthand, then it seems genuine enough. If you actually experienced the 1990s, then everything is perversely off.
The opening song of the movie? "Counting Blue Cars" by Dishwalla. Not Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins or 311 or Oasis or Blackstreet with Dr. Dre or even Counting Crows. It doesn't suck, but the song is so generic and safe that it becomes a mundane listen halfway through its first play. I was 12 and I knew Dishwalla would be a one-hit wonder. When you open a movie with Dishwalla, a band that was not even cool when I was in sixth grade, you are setting up something wildly unbelievable.
So here's the rest, in case you can't guess: DJ meets Six from Blossom and a ridiculously hot Nikki Cox (left), her roommates at Generic State U. The Rapist invites her to an opening night keg party and gets her drinking. Before you know it, she's clutching to him while "Macarena" blares in the background, and The Rapist invites her back to his room for the horrible, awkward rape scene with some sinisterly-poor acoustic guitar in the background. He said she said, yada yada yada, the end.
The thing is, if the producers had any brains at all, they would realize they had a much better lead in the supporting cast - Nikki Cox. She is a waffle crapper of the highest degree, especially in this movie, where she is prancing about with no bra for some reason. DJ is so non-sexual that it is unbelievable that The Rapist would pick her out from a crowd to target. It is unbelievable that he would ignore Nikki Cox to focus on DJ Tanner.