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Cruel Intentions 2

Cruel Intentions was a slick, misdirected, lousy adaptation of a classic French novel with a charismatic, sexy cast of budding young stars and a hip soundtrack optimized for heavy promotion on MTV. Cruel Intentions 2 is a clumsy, misdirected, lousy adaptation of a classic French novel with an uncharismatic cast of bland nobodies and a dull soundtrack, and couldn't even make a splash on the Fox Network. On the good side, it's no worse than the original. Writer-director Roger Kumble's first errant stab at cleverly transplanting Choderlos de Laclos' 18th Century novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses into the milieu of sexed-up private school teens garnered some undeserved attention for its star-studded line-up of Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillippe, and Sarah Michelle Gellar (in a girl-girl kiss, no less). It was a good idea, but he failed. To add insult, Kumble here practically remakes his first film, even dumber, as a pilot for a TV series. With very minor exceptions (it's a 'prequel': Valmont is not yet a ruthless cad, just a horny dope), the plot runs the exact same course as its predecessor, but with some silly moments made-for-TV and some naked ones made-for-video. It fails to find a balance, capturing neither the scheming sexuality (or production values) of MTV's Undressed nor the cheap titillation of the Poison Ivy sequels. And yet there's a very faint charm to its total lack of ambition and narrative coherence. It's like the sweetly retarded little brother to a lazy underachiever, bearing innocently the indelible mark of hopelessness. Fittingly, this is the fifth screen version of Laclos' novel (the forgotten Valmont is the best), but the only one that fails to credit the Frenchman as inspiration. He'd probably want it that way. Columbia TriStar's DVD is presented in an average anamorphic transfer (1.77) with the full-screen version on the flipside. Audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround, plus subtitles in seven languages. Includes trailers for a series of woefully bad films.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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