Hell, they say – and they should know – hath no fury like a woman scorned. While William Congreve probably never imagined his words would inspire a teen comedy precisely like this slightly weird slice of wish fulfillment, scorned women and fury form the heart of John Tucker Must Die. If you’re under 14 and have breasts then this film rocks. If you’re not and don’t, then it’s probably best avoided.
Essentially, it’s a John Hughes teen comedy given a gender swap, a dash of Cyrano and a 21st Century make over. John Tucker (Desperate Housewives’ gardener / Girls Aloud squeeze Metcalfe) is THE man on campus. He’s good looking, wealthy, popular, the basketball captain and the steady boyfriend of Carrie (Kebbel). And Beth (Bush). And Heather (Ashanti). And that’s the problem. When the three girls discover that they’ve all got their claws into John, they want revenge, but things don’t go to plan. Their first attempts just make John look even better – you can add master of spin to that earlier list – so they hatch a new plan: give him his dream woman and let her break his heart. That’s where the sweet and naïve Kate (Snow) comes in. The scorned trio decide to turn Kate into Tucker’s dream woman so that she can hurt him. Of course, along the way – chant along folks, you know the drill – they all learn a little about love and life.
The performances are sparky – Metcalfe in particular proving that there might life outside of Eva Longoria’s bedroom (yeah, but why would you want to find it?) – it moves along at pace (director Betty Thomas also made Private Parts and knows what she’s doing) and the reverse Cyrano plot will keep the aforementioned 14-year-old girl market very happy indeed. The boys might get a buzz from the girls themselves – the ugly stick is notably absent, particularly in the case of Bush – but this is very slight stuff indeed. The fact that it knows its limitations is a small saving grace and good on it for having the courage of its convictions. But if you’re outside that target demographic, your other half had better be grateful for getting you in that cinema.