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GET OVER IT

by: James Berardinelli

Proper credit is due to director Tommy O'Haver (Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss) and screenwriter R. Lee Fleming Jr. for at least trying to do something a little offbeat within the confines of the teen romantic comedy. Their efforts aren't entirely successful, but they at least make the generically-titled Get Over It a little more promising than the name indicates. While it's true that the basic plot is a stale staple (while trying to win back his old girlfriend, the guy fails to fails to recognize true love when it presents itself in the form of his best female friend), the filmmakers liven things up by throwing in a few musical numbers (including choreographed dancing to several '70s tunes like "Love Will Keep Us Together" and "September") and adding a heavy dollop of Shakespeare (in particular, "A Midsummer Night's Dream"). It makes for a teen-oriented movie unlike anything that has come along recently.

Unfortunately, in the midst of this innovation, O'Haver has lost track of the most basic element necessary in a formula romance: chemistry. Rule #1 for motion pictures of this sort - the leads have to connect; in Get Over It, they never really do. The problem is that only the female lead, Kelly (Kirsten Dunst), is presented as a legitimate character. Everyone else, including the male protagonist, Berke (Ben Foster), is a caricature, frequently forced into cartoonish situations where they must endure the indignities of being subjected to slapstick humor. The result is that many of the relationships, including the key one between Kelly and Berke, lack vitality.

When Get Over It starts, Berke is being dumped by his long-time girlfriend, Allison (Melissa Sagemiller). Even though Allison promptly becomes involved with the slimy Bentley (Shane West), Berke isn't willing to give her up. After his first few attempts to win her back fail, he decides to try out for the school play, a musical version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", in which Allison is playing a lead. Aided by his best friend's sister, Kelly, Bentley learns enough Shakespeare to earn him a speaking role. He continues his pursuit of Allison, blissfully unaware that Kelly is smitten with him.

Get Over It's standout is, unsurprisingly, Kirsten Dunst, who deserves top billing (even though Ben Foster has more lines and greater screen time). As she has done on a consistent basis in both good and bad films, she exudes charisma. Next to her, Foster's lightbulb burns dimly. He seems a little uncomfortable in the part - perhaps all of the embarrassing situations his character endures has something to do with that. In supporting roles, Melissa Sagemiller and recording artist Sisqo are energetic, and Shane West has what it takes to be a thoroughly dislikable villain. Sadly, we're also forced to endure the presence of Martin Short, whose attempts to wring humor out of his high-strung high school play director repeatedly fail. (Maybe he should have watched Christopher Guest in Waiting for Guffman - come to think of it, maybe he did.) Ed Begley Jr. and Swoosie Kurtz have small parts as Berke's "hip" parents.

The musical numbers and, to a lesser degree, the Shakespeare, help to keep Get Over It afloat when the formula elements begin to founder. Incidentally, those expecting more than a taste of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will be disappointed, but, after all, this is not being directed by Kenneth Branagh. The play is a plot element that is used to highlight character relationships, not define them. For those with a fondness for teen movies, Get Over It offers a departure (albeit not a radical one) from the norm, and, as such, should meet with their approval. For those outside of the target demographic, there's probably not enough here to warrant a trip to the theater. Get Over It offers more cinematic nutrition than many under-20 romantic comedies, but it's stil

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