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New Best Friend (R)
TriStar
Official Site
Director:Zoe Clarke-Williams
Producer:Frank Mancuso Jr.
Written by:Victoria Strouse
Cast:Mia Kirshner, Dominique Swain, Taye Diggs
Rating: out of 5


It’s a great testament to my fortitude, not just as a film critic but also as a human being, that I was able to sit through this film without strangling myself with my own shoelaces. While it may be a bit early in the season, I officially nominate New Best Friend for the dubious distinction of Worst Film, 2002. I suppose I should break it down for you good folks, though really, it’s kinda of like making fun of a kid with a serious handicap. It just feels wrong to pick on a movie as inept and useless as this one is.

Where to start… okay, the plot. The plot is pretty unoriginal, or at least unimaginative. There’s been a drug overdose on a college campus and the stricken girl’s parents think that there was foul play afoot. So they force the dean of the school to enlist the local sheriff to suss things out. He interviews everyone and, in flashbacks, we see the tale of a girl, Alicia, who starts out unpopular, befriends the “Cool Girls,” and proceeds to screw all of them over. The writer (obvious first-timer Victoria Strouse) is desperate to shock us with Alicia’s evil turn, but I’m fairly certain that we all saw it coming just after the credits. In fact, there isn’t a single moment of surprise in the entire movie, leaving you sitting in your seat practically saying the dialogue before the characters have a chance to. Which leads to the other problem with the script. Nowhere in the film does any character say anything even remotely resembling words an actual college student would speak. The dialogue sounds like a 40-year-old man’s idea of how “those hip youngsters” talk. It’s pretty sad.

Next, let’s discuss the cast and their characters, such as they are. The three popular girls are played to varying degrees of awfulness, with the stand-out being Dominique Swain, but only because she showed her breasts. The lead unpopular/popular/surprise-bitch girl is played by Mia Kirshner, who reaches levels of lifelessness previously seen only in plywood. But the big-time, mortally embarrassing, possibly career-ending performance belongs unquestionably to Taye Diggs as the local sheriff, Artie. Diggs is so laughably bad, it speaks volumes to his own self-delusions and vainglory that he didn’t recognize what he was doing and walk off the set. For starters, his role of sheriff is defined solely by the extremely fake-looking badge he wears pinned to his fashionable shirts. He comes across less like an officer of the law and more like the sheriff of the local The Gap. If that wasn’t bad enough, he decides to “enhance” his performance by speaking in a southern accent that makes Boss Hogg sound like David Niven by comparison. I swear to Christ that I’ve seen Diggs turn in a decent performance or two in his career, so I am absolutely mystified as to what he thought he was doing in this film. I suppose it didn’t help that he was forced to utter ridiculous lines like, “Colored paper… I’ve seen this before!” Hell, Anthony Hopkins would lose dignity saying that.

I could go on. Believe me, there’s enough bad here to take up a few days worth of columns. However, there really is no point. It goes without saying that the direction was marred by a complete lack of competence, so why harp on it? I’ve made it clear that there wasn’t a worthwhile minute, hell even a moment, in the entire picture, so why continue to throw stones? I guess the real reason to stop now is that there is no point wasting any more breath on a movie that, besides being truly bad, will only play in theaters for a week and be seen by mainly the cast and crew’s families. This movie has nothing to offer anyone and there is absolutely no reason it should have been made. End of story.

—Clinton Davis

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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