People, the future looks bleak. Its not the threat of Y2K; its
the glut of these throwaway movies involving cool, bitchy teenagers.
In fact, being thrown into darkness and cold doesnt seem so bad
if it means this particular filmmaking trend stops.
The latest affront is Cruel Intentions, an adaptation of Les Liaisons
Dangereuses involving high-schoolers. Buffy the Vampire Slayers
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe (54) star as Katherine
and Sebastian, stepsister and stepbrother and all-around troublemakers.
With their parents away, Katherine and Sebastian have decided
to make their last days before school starts a little more interesting.
Sebastian bets that he can deflower the school virgin before the
first bell. He puts up his classic car; she antes up the use of
her body in any way her stepbrother sees fit. At the same time,
they join forces to humiliate another virtuous girl, who dared
to catch the eye of one of Katherines boyfriends and whose mother
is gossiping about Sebastian.
Gratuitous hardly seems sufficient in describing this film. Spit
is swapped between two of the young actresses, theres a quick
butt shot, and Katherine and Sebastian spend an awful lot of time
rubbing on each other while talking explicitly. But its not even
gratuitous in a fun, campy way; it just feels cheap. But that
was probably writer/director Roger Kumbles intention: to shock
with the risqué. The actors are certainly up for their parts.
They sneer and preen with the best of them.
Cruel Intentions misses a true opportunity with its use of contemporary
teens. The Liaisons Dangereuses franchise works on its use of
deception and destroying trust in the most intimate fashion. Yet,
in this day and age, a shattering seduction is somewhat old hat.
So youre a slut? So what? It might just get you a book deal and
two hours with Barbara Walters. What would really ruin these kids
is spreading rumors of a more nasty sort, say they like Celine
Dion or, worse, Britney Spears. That would finish them but good.