Take one sexually inexperienced straight-A student (Say Anything) who's the most popular girl at her West Coast high school (Clueless). Throw in a pushy dad determined to send his kid to college (Some Kind Of Wonderful), a raucous frat party (Animal House) and a boy from the wrong side of the tracks (The Breakfast Club). Add a suicide (Heathers, Pump Up The Volume, Dead Poets Society), re-heat and serve.
Tastes lousy, doesn't it? Yet these are the ingredients for Girl, a crashingly predictable coming-of-age tale that recycles every rites-of-passage cliché cooked up by Hollywood.
Accompanied throughout by a knowing voiceover, lashings of hip slang (""That was dope!"" / ""I'm all over it!"") and the now-obligatory MTV soundtrack, Girl is a 90-minute problem page tackling such thorny issues as bullying and bulimia. Sometimes it's wise to its preachy tone - - Andrea's stuffy pa using a banana and a condom to illustrate safe sex, for example - - but elsewhere it's painfully po-faced (viz the time when one character tops himself because he misses out on a record contract).
Adapted from Blake Nelson's novel, Girl has a single gag - - our heroine declares something in her voiceover before totally contradicting herself on screen - - that's repeated ad infinitum, ad nauseam. And whenever the narrative flags - - which is often - - we get a rotten ballad from Flanery.
Swain proves there is life after Lolita, and she's ably supported by a fresh-faced cast that includes Cruel Intentions starlet Blair and Clea DuVall from The Faculty. But do we really need more movies about self-obsessed nymphettes and their disappearing hymens? Thank God Kurt Cobain never saw Girl. He might have done something really foolish.