I think we all had a John Tucker at our high school. You know the kind; an athletic rich kid whom all the guys knew was a total jerk, but the girls nevertheless fell head over heels for. It didn’t matter how many hearts were broken or how cold he was, the girls kept lining up for inevitable punishment. It was a mystery then, but John Tucker Must Die tries to enlighten us mortals as to how so many bright, good-looking girls keep falling for an obvious con artist.
John Tucker (Metcalfe) is the king of the school. He is a basketball star, is loaded, and has the ladies drooling over him. John has three girlfriends, in fact: Heather (Ashanti), Beth (Bush), and Carrie (Kebbel). None of them know about the others, but the silence is soon broken when the new girl in school, Kate (Snow), spots the different girls with John at the restaurant she works at. Furious, the three girls come up with a plan: set John up with Kate for the sole purpose of getting his heart broken.
After a riotous opening fifteen minutes, John Tucker Must Die quickly settles into a groove that is sporadically funny but often forced. It feels like the story doesn’t have enough meat to accommodate a feature film, as the girls must keep coming up with new ways to embarrass John. The scene where they load up his protein drink with estrogen pills nearly makes the film worth the price of admission alone.
But it runs out of steam, even with the competent and entertaining direction by Betty Thomas. Working from Jeff Lowell’s screenplay, Thomas gives the film some extra bite, particularly in a scene involving thongs and their growing popularity amongst the males at the school. The humor is completely revenge-driven but has a strangely innocent angle to it. Thomas manages to keep things relatively clean when they could have gotten ugly, but doesn’t lose the edge.
The performances are fun and harmless, led by the adorable Brittany Snow as Kate. She is the most “inexperienced” of the group and her incorruption drives the film. She is the kind of girl that all of us who were scoffing at the John Tuckers of the world would have wanted to date. Of the three avenging women, Sophia Bush fares the best as the environmental, yet “slutty” Beth.
John Tucker Must Die is silly, shallow summer entertainment that falls short of being noteworthy, but will nevertheless gain a nice following. It’s not nearly as offensive as some of the trailers have made it out to be. It’s a retaliatory film for all those girls who were double-crossed by the John Tucker at their school – and us guys who couldn’t wait to see his demise.
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Length: 87 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and language.
Theatrical Release: July 28, 2006
Directed by: Betty Thomas
Written by: Jeff Lowell
Cast: Jesse Metcalfe, Brittany Snow, Ashanti, Sophia Bush, Arielle Kebbel, Penn Badgley