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Whatever It Takes: Special Edition

In yet another entry in the "teen comedy romance based on a classic work of literature that ends at the prom" genre, David Ranyr's Whatever It Takes cobbles together a toothsome foursome of teens — two popular, two decidedly not. Best friends Ryan (Shane West) and Maggie (Marla Sokoloff) are next-door neighbors (as were Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier in Drive Me Crazy) with love-lives as barren as the Mojave Desert. Accordian-playing Ryan is hung up on popular-girl Ashley (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), who is unaware of his existence. But when her cousin Chris (James Franco), a top jock, gets the hots for Maggie, the two guys arrive at a plan pulled from Cyrano de Bergerac — tip each other off on how the ladies can be most effectively wooed. Like the rest of the films in the recent teenybopper genre, Anything It Takes has several charming moments and even some sappy stuff towards the end, and both West and Sokoloff are enormously sympathetic leads. However, with half of the screen-time given to O'Keefe and Franco, there are moments when the story can test one's patience. Certainly, O'Keefe is a delicious bubblehead who essentially reprises her bitchy ex-girlfriend role in She's All That, but Franco shows less range, and his unsettling mix of pursed lips and Christian Slater/Jack Nicholson vocal inflections makes him hard to stick with. What's more, it's difficult to swallow the set-up here, where a hopeless loser lusts after the sexiest chick in school while a hottie with nice rackage lives next door and hasn't had a date in ages. But if everything must end at the prom, give credit where it's due — the Titanic-themed ball is a hoot, especially when it suddenly transforms into a famous scene from It's a Wonderful Life. Like much of the film, it's good for a few smirks. Also starring Julia Sweeney. Good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1), pan-and-scan on the flip-side, DD 5.1 or Dolby 2.0 Surround. Commentary track with director Ranyr and cast members, three-minute featurette, four deleted scenes, trailers. Keep-case.
—JJB



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