The 2001 spoof “Not Another Teen Movie” wasn’t universally panned — it’s got a 28% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though it’s inexplicably absent from the Criticwire database — but the positive reviews tend to be along the lines of Richard Roeper’s “
“It made me laugh and I’m giving it thumbs up, God help me.” Film Journal’s David Noh wrote, “For anyone for whom these films are a guilty pleasure, this pretty much delivers in terms of silliness and over-the-top laugh attempts.” Among major publications, the closest to unbridled enthusiasm came from Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman, who called it “a big, fat, juicy spitball lobbed, with mostly dead-on aim, at the teen-smarm clichés that have accumulated like so much earwax over the last three years.” Spitball, earwax: Who’s in?
Little White Lies’ David Ehrlich is here to change all that. In a post titled “‘Not Another Teen Movie’ Is a F*cking Masterpiece,” he writes, “Spoofs, by their very nature, are always looking at the past over their shoulder. Their humour appeals to audiences of the present by tracing an ironic distance between them and the absurdities that they used to accept at face value. Satire has always been how culture sheds its skin, and parodies are an integral part of film history thanks to their unique ability to help us forgive ourselves for the silliness that we once took seriously.”
Not convinced? How’s this:
Thanks to the immediacy of the performances, a movie spoofing a story about the upward mobility of a disgusting teenage wildebeest (“She’s got glasses and a ponytail!”) becomes a biting satire about the rigidity of social roles. Even Jake’s desperate last-minute dash to stop Janey at the airport is locked into a scripted social protocol that no one has the power to break….
In Roger Ebert’s otherwise unfortunate review of “Not Another Teen Movie,” he wrote that the film was like, “The soup that heats itself.” That’s exactly what spoofs were all about before the Friedberg and Seltzer nightmare factory turned them into a random assembly line of decomposing pop culture references. “Not Another Teen Movie” recognizes what “Meet the Spartans,” “Vampires Suck,” and all the rest did not: its mere existence is the only pop culture reference that it needs.
At the very least, you have to give “Teen Movie” credit for prescient casting: Chris Evans plays the BMOC, Josh Radnor a smarmy orientation guide, Chyler Leigh the shy but hormonally charged new girl in school. It’s on Netflix, so judge for yourself.