Loser

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Loser

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Amy Heckerling has directed two of the smartest and most resonant teen comedies of the past 20 years, 1982's slashingly funny Fast Times At Ridgemont High and 1995's effervescent Clueless, which she also wrote. If anyone could rejuvenate the dispiriting teen-comedy genre, it would seem to be her, which makes Loser, her first film since Clueless, a major disappointment. American Pie's fresh-faced pie-fucker Jason Biggs stars as a pleasant small-town teen who has difficulty adjusting to college life in New York. Mercilessly abused by his trio of date-rape-happy roommates, Biggs develops a crush on a fellow misfit (Mena Suvari of American Pie, American Beauty, and American Virgin), who is herself involved in a masochistic, one-sided affair with smug, condescending professor Greg Kinnear. United by their love of Everclear, as well as their status as the two people in New York who aren't assholes, they drift together far too slowly, with Suvari taking forever to realize that maybe the superhumanly nice Biggs is a better catch than the loathsome Kinnear. Heckerling, meanwhile, heaps so much suffering and torment on the pair that Loser threatens to turn into the story of Job revisited as a limp teen romance. Kinnear specializes in humanizing handsome, facile jerks, but that gift fails him here, as his lecherous professor is such a cad—he seems to have learned his interpersonal skills from Don Rickles—that it's difficult to understand why Suvari would be so hung up on him. Loser is a lot like its cheerful, sad-sack protagonist: good-hearted, sweet, and earnest, but dull and utterly forgettable.

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