Guest Author - Mystic Ransdell
Directed By: Raja Gosnell
Release Date: April 9, 1999
Run Time: 107 minutes
If you had the opportunity to go back to high school, would you take it?
Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore) is a successful copy editor for the Chicago Sun-Times. Shy, controlled, and very disciplined, she is fantastic at her job, but painfully out of touch with the world. She would love to be a reporter, but her boss, Gus (John C. Reilly) doesn't feel she has what it takes to get out there and get the story. Fate intervenes, however, when one day during a business meeting, the big boss Rigfort (Garry Marshall) decides he wants an undercover story done - an expose' on high school students. Without warning, he points to Josie and tells her to enroll in high school.
At first, Josie is completely thrilled at being given her first shot as a reporter, despite the concerns of her boss and her office friend, Anita (Molly Shannon). She heads to the Tiki Shack, a luau-themed packing/mailbox store, to talk her brother Rob (David Arquette) into trading cars with her. Rob then reminds her what she has seemingly forgotten - that high school was a nightmare experience where she was picked on relentlessly, nicknamed "Josie Gross-ey", and became the victim of many cruel jokes.
Despite these revelations, Josie bravely moves forward, working on hair styles, make-up, and finding more up-to-date clothing to wear. Despite missteps along the way, she finds a friend named Aldys (Leelee Sobieski) and becomes a member of The Denominators, a Calculus Club. She also discovers an amazing attraction between herself and her English Teacher, Sam Coulson (Michael Vartan).
Josie is 25, a virgin, and has never had a relationship. She's never even had a first kiss. She attempts to connect with the "cool kids" in school but fails miserably. Unfortunately, Rigfort tells her that her job depends on it and in desperation, she talks to her brother Rob, since he was always one of the cool kids when they were in school.
Rob takes it upon himself to enroll in school himself and by the first afternoon, is part of the popular crowd again. Through well-placed comments, he helps Josie to find her way among them, as well. When she receives a hidden camera to wear, her feeds become the office entertainment at work, as everyone experiences high school vicariously through her. It doesn't take long before her boss, noticing the attraction going on between her and her teacher, orders her to do a story on him, focusing on inappropriate student/teacher relationships. It is up to Josie to figure out what to do to save her teacher, save her job, and find her way to true love.
I have adored this movie for a long time. Frankly, it is one of my "feel-good" movies and one of those that I simply have to watch every so often or I start to have withdrawals. Drew Barrymore is her usual adorable self. Michael Vartan is altogether crush-worthy as her teacher. And most of the cast is quite likable. I really enjoy Jeremy Jordan as Guy Perkins, the most popular guy in school. Although he has his "jerk" moments when he refers to Aldys as "Alpo", for the most part he is cute, intelligent, self-assured, and seems to effortlessly navigate his way through the the high school experience without taking it too seriously. At one point, he decides to start a new word - "Rufus" - (a positive adjective) - and I rather like it.
I think many of us can relate to Josie's character, at least to a point. High school was not much fun for a lot of us, and the thought of going back and going through all that again could be really scary. Watching Josie grow and find herself along the way is a pretty wonderful thing. And the ending, quite honestly, makes my heart swell and makes this mushy editor get all teary-eyed every time I see it. If you haven't had the chance to enjoy this lovely movie yet, I hope you do, very soon. In my humble opinion, "Never Been Kissed" is definitely Rufus!
(I was not paid to endorce this movie in any way. I watched it from my own private video collection and my opinions and thoughts about it are my own.)
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