Retro Review: Loser

Written: July 22, 2000

Amy Heckerling, writer/director of “Clueless” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, tells another story through the eyes of teen. This time she focuses on Paul Tannek, played by Jason Biggs of “American Pie”.

Paul is leaving his small town roots and moving to New York when he gets a scholarship.

When Paul really doesn’t fit in and is branded a “loser”, he is forced to live off campus. While struggling with his off campus life and trying to maintain his GPA for his scholarship, Paul falls for a gothic chick named Dora (Mena Suvari also from “American Pie”).

But Paul’s luck just seems to get worse when Dora is madly in love with their English professor (Greg Kinnear).

Loser is like a lot of other teen romantic comedies that have arrived in the last couple months. You know the ones where the film has the same premise and very little laughs. An example of that was “Boys and Girls” starring Freddie Prinze Jr. Loser has a smart cast and like a lot of Heckerling films, a great soundtrack but I fear the subject matter here just isn’t funny.

I really believe that this film should have traveled down the “screw-ball” comedy lane and developed a lot more pranks, revenge strategies and romantic tension.

This routine worked for a lot of college screwball classics including “Revenge of the Nerds” and “Up the Creek”. These films developed their “losers” as victims of their environment and we really wanted to see them survive. What Heckerling does with “Loser” is brings us a sweet melancholy that makes us choke.

The film is way to tender to even arrive at any of the laughs. Sure I felt sorry for Dora and Paul but I was never near the cheering stage in wanting them to survive.

If I had to pick a favorite member of the cast it would be Greg Kinnear who once more shines in a dreary comedy. Anyone remember “Dear God”? In this film, Kinnear is a great jerks who loves to ravish college coeds. Within Kinnear’s portrayal you can see the little boy forced into being a man. He is immature and quite to jerk. It’s a great performance.

Don’t blame the cast here blame the writing.

(2 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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