[box cover]


The title says it all. Though Amy Heckerling's film about teen angst has a patina of cleverness, Loser ends up losing on all fronts. Jason Biggs — who first gained notice having carnal knowledge of a pastry in American Pie — plays Paul, a bumpkin from small-town USA. When Paul gets accepted to New York University, his Dad (Dan Aykroyd) proposes advice about making new friends by explaining that listening is the key. "Interested is interesting" is the best he can offer. That advice would be great if Paul were going to the local community college. But in New York, Paul's nice-guy personality just makes him a chump. As Paul tries to get along, his three roommates torture and abuse him (one goes so far as to inform him "Nobody likes you"). And as the roommates shun their studies, drink, party, and look for women, Paul studies hard and cleans up after them. Enter Dora (Mena Suvari, the beauty in American Beauty), a struggling college student who works in a strip joint to pay tuition. Paul encounters her in his literature class and immediately falls in love, but Dora is too busy having an affair with their sleazy professor (Greg Kinnear) to take much notice. It takes several obstacles and the majority of the film for Dora to see what Paul and the audience know from the start — that Paul and Dora are the ones who are meant to be together. Loser's romantic-comedy storyline is aptly acted, although there's nothing here that hasn't been seen before. It is the side stories within the film that are decidedly more disturbing, where drugging women, date-rape, and blackmailing are all used as comic elements. Taken in full, Loser is far less likable and believable than Heckerling's wonderful teen comedy Clueless — Paul may be from a small town, but with the availability of TV, movies, and the Internet, the lead character doesn't quite jive with modern America. Columbia TriStar's DVD offers both anamorphic (1.85:1) and full-screen transfers, with audio in DD 5.1 or Dolby 2.0 Surround. Extras include a "making-of" featurette/infomercial, talent files, the music video Teenage Dirtbag by alterna-rockers Wheatus, production notes, and theatrical trailers. Keep-case.
—Kerry Fall

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