Head Over Heels

-

Head Over Heels

A few years ago, Freddie Prinze Jr. was a promising young actor with an appealingly light presence. But somehow, by design or accident, he's become a brand. Prinze's name in the credits promises, as effectively as a neon sign, 90 minutes of unchallenging romantic comedy propelled toward the happy ending announced by the first scene. By this point, tickets to the affable, unthreateningly attractive leading man's films might as well come packaged with in the latest 'N Sync CD, given the way their target audiences overlap. As Prinze vehicles go, Head Over Heels ranks a notch or two above last year's Boys And Girls. But given that Boys deserved to be consigned to a pit and periodically burned, that says little for Heels' virtues. Squeezing at least two bad script ideas into one film, the film co-stars Monica Potter as a painting restoration expert who, after breaking up with her boyfriend, moves into an apartment with a view of Prinze's residence. Smitten with Prinze, Potter is understandably disturbed when she believes she's witnessed him murdering a young woman, so she enlists her four new aspiring-model roommates in a full-scale investigation. The hijinks that follow are staged by director Mark Waters (The House Of Yes) with the dispassionate competence of a Subway employee and the wit of a grade-school playground. When a gag that covers much of the film's cast in human waste actually elevates the level of humor, coming as it does after a scene in which Potter is nearly molested by a Great Dane, it's clear that no one involved sought to achieve the velveteen subtlety of The Rules Of The Game, or even The King Of Queens. Potter spends much of the film "restoring" Prinze's face to a Titian painting, and while many of Heels' viewers will probably think that's an improvement, chances are they won't feel that way in a few years. Prinze's ability to amble through Head Over Heels unscathed may serve as a definition of what it means to be a star, but he should take note: The members of Freddie & The Dreamers were stars, too.