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Friday, July 28, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM


Movie Review

"John Tucker Must Die": Lovable player charms his way into your heart

Seattle Times staff reporter

You don't expect to fall for the title character in a movie named "John Tucker Must Die."

But thanks to an endearing, fearless performance from Jesse Metcalfe as high-school basketball star John Tucker, that's exactly what happens.

The plot is the typical stuff of high-school comedies: Studly dude juggles too many ladies, they all find out and conspire to make him "undatable."

But there's an ease about how Metcalfe ("Desperate Housewives") carries himself. He's so comfortable with himself and his body that he effortlessly climbs out of the increasingly outlandish traps the girls set up for him.

Movie preview 3 stars

Showtimes and trailer

"John Tucker Must Die," with Jesse Metcalfe, Brittany Snow, Ashanti, Sophia Bush, Arielle Kebbel, Penn Badgley, Jenny McCarthy. Directed by Betty Thomas, from a screenplay by Jeff Lowell. 88 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language. Several theaters.

When they sneak estrogen into his "Buff Up" powder, he turns all girly at a big game. Dumb, right? But there's something actually genuine about the way he complains about his sore nipples, his irresistible craving for chocolate and irrational fears that his thighs are too fat.

The vengeful hotties also break out of cliché-dom with funny, distinct performances: Arielle Kebbel as video-camera-toting overachiever Carrie, Ashanti as sassy head cheerleader Heather and Sophia Bush as vegan activist Beth (whose 100 percent hemp bras don't stay on long when she's with John).

Brittany Snow has the secret-weapon role as Kate, the plain girl who turns into a hottie and steals John's heart. In most of these movies, it's fairly obvious that the girl in the duck/swan role is hot underneath the stupid glasses and bad hair, but Snow makes both parts of the role seem real.

The clever soundtrack provides a running commentary for the on-screen action. The All-American Rejects belt out "Dirty Little Secret," while John struts through the school, making eyes at each of his girls. And the familiar lines of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "Time After Time" are introduced at just the right moments.

And longtime director Betty Thomas ("The Brady Bunch Movie") shows that she's still got the pulse of teenage angst, bringing out strong performances from every one of the ensemble cast.

Judy Chia Hui Hsu: 206-464-3315 or

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company




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