Down To You

Aimed effectively at its target audience—13-year-old girls enamored of dreamboat star Freddie Prinze Jr. but wary of films less accessible than, say, She's All ThatDown To You tells the tale of a handsome boy (Prinze) and his courtship of a pretty girl (Julia Stiles). That's pretty much all there is to Down To You, a sluggishly paced film content to be the cinematic equivalent of a young-adult romance novel. Prinze stars as a handsome, well-to-do college student who meets the wealthy, photogenic Stiles at a bar and proceeds to fall for her, win her love, and lose her before realizing just how important she is to him. Stiles and Prinze are two of the most appealing actors working in the teensploitation genre, and Stiles is a legitimately good actor, but their appeal is all Down To You has to offer. Stiles gave a fine performance in 10 Things I Hate About You, but there she had a fully fleshed out, interesting, quirky character to play. Here, she's stuck as a generic arty girl, an artist whose supposedly brilliant paintings look like what you'd find on the walls of a cheap motel. Writer-director Kris Isacsson, meanwhile, plays it so safe that he neglects to put his lovers through anything more treacherous (or interesting) than a pregnancy scare and an implausible minor indiscretion. And, in the tradition of just about every recent white-bread romance, there are not one but two scenes in which absurdly wealthy characters express their true feelings via passionately lip-synched renditions of soul classics. Down To You's use of monologues addressed directly to the camera gives it an irritating Annie Hall-by-way-of-a-WB-sitcom tone, but, unlike Annie Hall, its audience is likely to lose interest in Down To You's bland protagonists well before they begin to lose interest in each other.

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