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Originally published Friday, January 25, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Movie review

"Teeth" has no bite or redeeming quality

Why they aren't releasing "Teeth" on Valentine's Day is a mystery, as it may be the date movie of the year — if you're a parent. Well, a psychotic parent.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Movie review 1 stars

"Teeth," with Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Hale Appleman, Lenny Von Dohlen. Written and directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein.

88 minutes. Rated R for disturbing sequences involving sexuality and violence, language and some drug use. Varsity.

Why they aren't releasing "Teeth" on Valentine's Day is a mystery, as it may be the date movie of the year — if you're a parent. Well, a psychotic parent. OK, if you're the late radical feminist Andrea Dworkin.

The horror-comedy about a teenage girl with a vagina dentata — translation: teeth in her hoo-hoo — is painfully unwatchable for anyone else.

Growing up in the shadow of a nuclear plant, lovely young Dawn (Jess Weixler) has known from an early age that she has something extra down south. Now in high school, she's taunted for her "love is worth waiting for" abstinence speeches. Stickers cover female anatomy in her school textbooks. And when she goes on a double-date, the group avoids a PG-13 movie because it might show "heavy making out."

But hormones are stronger than brainwashing. It isn't long before Dawn has to deal with the reality of her burgeoning sexuality, with the horror of that mythical killer smile between her legs, and with some overly aggressive males who include her stoner perv stepbrother (John Hensley).

The movie's sensibilities and statements might have been provocative about 30 years ago. All the castrated men are rapists or otherwise exploitative scum who deserve it, and the young woman begins to find empowerment in her gift. Its writer/director, incidentally, is a dude, Mitchell Lichtenstein (son of pop artist Roy). His castration scenes aren't nearly as excruciating as his awkward timing and worse-than-obvious pacing.

Few subjects are as ripe for satire as abstinence education. But "Teeth" doesn't go the distance on that front, is laughless as a comedy and mistakes gore with horror.

Mark Rahner: mrahner@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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