A scene from 'Get Over It'
Courtesy Photo
** stars 90 minutes | Rated: PG-13
Opened: Friday, March 9, 2001
Directed by Tommy O'Haver

Starring Kirsten Dunst, Ben Foster, Melissa Sagemiller, Colin Hanks, Mila Kunis, Shane West, Martin Short, Swoosie Kurtz, Ed Begley Jr., Zoe Saldana, Kylie Bax


Not worth renting unless you're dying to freeze-frame on Dunst in a bikini. Wait for cable.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 08.14.2001


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Forgettable, formulaic teen romance drags talented star Dunst, clever director O'Haver down with it

By Rob Blackwelder

After Miramax jettisoned all remnants of integrity and started trafficking in assembly-line teen fare, a pattern began to emerge. Once or twice a year the studio would release another insipid high school or college romance starring the phenomenally talentless Freddie Prinze, Jr. -- a bland, blue-eyed magnet for 14-year-old girls. The happy endings always involved girls lowering their standards and/or taking back their pig boyfriends, and it seemed Miramax went out of its way to give each movie the blandest possible title like "She's All That," "Down To You" and "Boys and Girls."

This year's model is called "Get Over It" (the original title, "Getting Over Allison," was apparently deemed far too creative), and while it's still utterly forgettable and mostly unoriginal, at least somebody was making an effort this time.

That somebody would be Tommy O'Haver, the cleverly twinkly hand behind the zestful gay romantic comedy "Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss." He cast genuinely capable actors like Ben Foster ("Liberty Heights"), playing the picture's generic lovelorn high school boy, and Kirsten Dunst, playing his best friend's sister -- the girl he inadvertently falls in love with while trying to win back his childhood sweetheart (adorable newcomer Melissa Sagemiller).

The fact that said sweetheart had dumped Foster for a boy band cast-off with a fake British accent (Shane West) shows the picture isn't afraid of mocking its target audience a little. The fact that the movie begins with a musical number -- in which Foster is unceremoniously dumped and mopes down the street followed by a crooning garage band and dancing UPS drivers -- shows O'Haver's whimsical sensibilities were given relatively free reign. (Miramax is notorious for micro-managing all directorial freedom out of their films.) The fact that Foster's parents (Swoosie Kurtz and Ed Begley, Jr.) are funny because they host a sex show on cable TV, and not because they're complete dimwits, shows "Get Over It" is at least making a small effort to break the mold.

Then there's Martin Short as their high school's fey, hopelessly unhip and hilariously highfalutin drama teacher, who casts all the romantic rivals in his own rock-opera version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." ("Bill Shakespeare is a wonderful poet," he sniffs, "but Burt Bacharach he ain't!") "Get Over It" is almost worth seeing for him alone.

But the production of this play is also where the movie starts to show its seams. Screenwriter R. Lee Fleming Jr. (who wrote "She's All That," the absolute worst of this genre) usurps the Shakespeare as shorthand, drawing overt parallels between the characters in the play and the characters in the film. It's clear he thinks this is pretty clever, but not only is it lazy and uncreative, it's been done in other recent, crappy teen movies like "10 Things I Hate About You" ("Taming of the Shrew") and "Whatever It Takes" ("Cyrano de Bergerac").

The dream sequences in which Foster imagines himself as Lysander and Allison (Sagemiller) as Hermia sparkle with O'Haver's enthusiastic imagination. The movie has other, all too brief sparks of creativity and comedy as well -- like when Foster's best friends set him up with the school klutz, a sexy 24-year-old who still hasn't graduated because she keeps breaking legs or lapsing into comas.

But even with O'Haver and Dunst (who proved in last year's "Bring It On" that she can bring zing to banal high school comedy) trying hard to drag "Get Over It" up to their level, the movie just has too many off-the-shelf elements to rise above its prefab roots. Eventually it falls into such a rut that Foster's epiphany that he's fallen for Dunst comes in one of those ubiquitous montage flashbacks of all the flirting they did during the first 7/8ths of the movie.

The fact that O'Haver had a stable of Miramax's pop-culture players thrust upon him -- Carmen Electra, model Kylie Bax, and pop music flashes-in-the-pan Sisqo and Vitamin C are all in the movie -- doesn't help either.

There's nothing glaringly wrong with "Get Over It." It's charming, sweet and passably amusing much of the time. But there isn't much right with it either. All its brief flickers of originality never add up to much and it never captures the spirit O'Haver obviously had in mind.

As for Miramax, the studio heads clearly didn't have much confidence in the film because they refused to screen it for the press before its release -- which is ironic because of the four movies they've released using this same formula, this one is a vast improvement over the rest.

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