Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

Get Over It (2001) ** 1/2

Directed by Tommy O'Haver. Written by by R. Lee Fleming Jr. Cinematography, Maryse Alberti. Editing, Jeff Betancourt. Production design, Robin Standefer. Music, Steve Bartek. Cast: Kirsten Dunst (Kelly), Ben Foster (Berke), Martin Short (Dr. Desmond Forrest Oakes), Melissa Sagemiller (Allison), Colin Hanks (Felix). Swoosie Kurtz and Ed Begley, Jr. (Berke's parents), Sisqo (Dennis), Shane West (Striker). A Miramax release. 87 minutes. PG-13

Do we need another teen flick? Do we need a hole in the head? We don't, assuming that "we" stands for minimally mature, objective and sophisticated viewers. But since the huge market for youth movies fills Hollywood's coffers, such pictures will be made ad infinitum and ad nauseam.

Still, once in a blue moon something acceptable pops up. "Get Over It" --filmed last summer in Toronto--has an unzapping title, comes unannounced, had no advanced hoopla or press previews. But it is sort of OK.

The basic plot is strictly deja suffered through --since the dawn of cinema. Boy meets girl, boy plus girl, boy minus girl, boy and other girl, other girl sweet on and better for boy, boy too dumb to see this -- until the last reel.

Fate (read US mobility) separates childhood playmates Allison and Berke. They meet again in high school, become sweethearts in a flash. After 16 months of cohabitation and bliss (at least on Berke's part) Allison drops him. For him it is like a sudden attack by friendly fire. Allison's reasons are not specific, but rather interestingly illustrate the French saying " tout casse, tout passe, tout lasse," meaning that sooner or later " everything breaks, goes away, gets tiresome." Allison is emblematic of the many and short relationships of "celebrities." In fact, 16 months and 3 days is a long relationship-affair-mariage by Hollywood standards.

The girl did not ditch Berke for another fellow, yet soon enough she starts an affair with Striker, whose prestige includes having been in a boy-band. The new twosome successfully try out for the school's spring musical "A Midsummer Night's Rockin' Eve." (That show is after, you know, Shakespeare, sort of.)

The inconsolable Berke, still hoping to get Allison back, also tries out --against all logic--for the musical, for which he is not qualified (his thing is basketball) but somehow he makes it. Felix (Colin Hanks, the son of Tom Hanks) his best friend, has a cute younge sister, Kelly. She writes songs and sings pretty well. She helps, instructs and encourages Berke, who, of course, does not notice that Kelly is drawn to him. But give them time. (Felix is protective of his sister, but this doesn't add anything significant or useful to the movie).

Expectedly mild developments and predictable complications ensue -- nothing really original or notable, with the big exception of the musical's director. The composer-writer of its twelve songs, its producer and part author (move over, William S!) this flick-saving character is the school's Chair of Fine Arts, Dr. Desmond Forrest Oakes. In a style as theatrical and grandiose as that name, Martin Short plays him with all stops out, no holds barred, alternating between cutting criticism, merciless put-downs (but you know he's deep down a kind person), booming imperial commands, haughty advice, sage orders and self-promoting declarations. and steals the show over and over again.

Short has been around quite a bit, on TV and in movies. The latter did not do right by him. They were mostly mediocre items, with an odd exception --odd because that was Short's first major role. The 1986 hilariously absurdist take-off "Three Amigos!" by John Landis, also starred Steve Martin and Chevy Chase. It is still an underrated feature but has many partisans, of which I am one.

In "Get Over It" Martin Short is given the best lines, in fact the only funny ones. "Bill Shakespeare was a wonderful poet, but Burt Bacharach he was not!" The absurdism of this declaration is anywhere from amusing to delicious, depending on one's taste. So is Short's over-the-top, no-holds-barred mannered delivery, flamboyant in choice of words, intonation, gesture and body language. It's also gay-leaning, so that it comes as a surprise, a joke, or a gag (you choose) when late in the movie his secretary tells him "Your wife called." This bit is the only raison d'etre of Mrs. Oakes.

When the film was shot, Short was a youthful 50. Most of "the kids" were in their early twenties, but this is not blatantly obvious. What is however is that very strong impression that the film was cut down to its unusual 87 minutes, no doubt to qualify for a PG-13 by removing raunchy or vulgar passages.

Some of the latter remain, and might have been excised too, but then the film would have shrunk too much. Whether or not the cuts are the guilty parties, the picture is episodic, fragmented and choppy. This vagueness is not lethal, since the two best elements appear to be intact: Martin Short, and the updated Midsummer Night's Dream which we see often, in sections, from rehearsals to fantasy scenes to the final product. That's when things fall in place, love blooms, the villain is punished. There is quite a bit of pleasing imagination as Shakespeare, the musical and the lives of the students mix and reflect one another. It is the second movie by director Tommy O'Haver, whose debut was "Billy's First Hollywood Kiss."

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel