Friday March 24, 2000
Stop me if you've heard this one: High school everyman who's a cross between David Schwimmer and Doogie Howser has a crush on the high school bombshell. She, in turn, has no reason to think twice about him. He, meanwhile, has a perfectly beautiful gal pal who's coveted by the school Lothario/lowlife and whom Mr. Howser is willing to sell out at a heartbeat for the chance to get to the aforementioned Miss Gorgeous Drawers. Everyone knows our hero and his girl-next-door will get together eventually, if only after the requisite series of degradations and humiliations.
We got it down, pretty much? Pick the movie. OK, how about this one? The aptly titled "Whatever It Takes" carries the ad line "How far will they go"--a sentiment you may feel free to apply both to the high school sex-a-thon of recent cinema as well as the race for Hollywood dollars. In "Whatever" we get a seemingly decent kid like Ryan (Shane West), who, on the chance of getting close to the overripe and all-too-obvious Ashley (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, who played exactly the same role in "She's All That"), will sell out his best pal Maggie (Marla Sokoloff).
Teen movies are about sex--sex that never actually happens, but that informs everything that otherwise occurs in the film. To this end, the genre is unique because it can't help but render the main characters thoroughly uninteresting while giving all the comic thrust to the incidental idiots--Richard Schiff's gym coach, for instance, who seems incapable of not throwing beanballs at his baseball players. Or Floyd (Aaron Paul), the geekiest of Ryan's geek friends, who has fixated himself on the long-ago vandal who cut the neck off the school statue. It's guys like Floyd who make a movie like "Whatever It Takes" feel like high school. And the rest of the losers make it feel like a movie.
Whatever It Takes, 2000. PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual material and language. Phoenix Pictures presents a Paul Schiff production. Director David Raynr. Producer Paul Schiff. Executive producers Bill Brown, Vicki Dee Rock. Screenplay by Mark Schwahn. Cinematographer Tim Suhrstedt. Editor Ronald Roose. Music Edward Shearmur. Costume designer Leesa Evans. Production designer Edward T. McAvoy. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Forest Whitaker as Ghost Dog. John Tormey as Louie. Sonny Valerio as Cliff Gorman. Frank Minucci as Big Angie. Richard Portnow as Handsome Frank. Tricia Vessey as Louise Vargo. Henry Silva as Ray Vargo. Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich. Albert Finney as Ed Masry. Aaron Eckhart as George. Marg Helgenberger as Donna Jensen. Cherry Jones as Pamela Duncan. Peter Coyote as Kurt Potter. Shane West as Ryan. Jodi Lyn O'Keefe as Ashley. Marla Sokoloff as Maggie. Richard Schiff as Gym coach. Aaron Paul as Floyd.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times