||Bad Girls From Valley High
2000 - R for some sexual content - 84 Mins.
|Director: Paul Fleischman|
|Written By: Robert LoCash, Andrew Lane (Based on the Novel by: Paul Fleischman)|
|Starring: Julie Benz, Monica Keena, Nicole Bilderback, Jonathan Brandis, Janet Leigh, Christopher Lloyd |
|Review by: James O'Ehley
|Official Site: homevideo.universalstudios.com/title.php?titleId=2676|
Nope, this film has no “hot cheerleader action” as the title might imply. (Actually I just threw in this sentence to screw around with Google search results.)
Heathers! I mean, um, Hons.
Instead BAD GIRLS OF VALLEY HIGH is a rather lame teenage comedy of the sort Hollywood used to make back in the ‘Eighties. Think HEATHERS meets CLUELESS, but without anything funny or insightful going on, then you’d have an idea of what BAD GIRLS OF VALLEY HIGH is on about. It is rather peculiar how the clichés of this genre have remained unchanged since all those John Hughes movies of the 1980s. BAD GIRLS is no exception with the requisite collection of familiar nerds, jocks, popular girls, etc., etc.
If you’ve never heard of this film before, it is because its original title was “A Fate Worse Than Death”, which is a more apt title, but not quite in the way you would imagine: it was probably a fate worse than death for the actors that appeared in this movie. Oh, and let’s not forget the poor audience members . . .
I imagine the original title was changed because it just made it so much easier for caustic critics such as myself who had to sit through it, but they can’t stop me from riffing on it! No sirree!
Three teenage girl friends calling themselves the “Hons” – Danielle (Julie Benz, TAKEN), Tiffany (Nicole Bilderback, BRING IT ON), and Brooke (Monica Keena, TV’s DAWSON CREEK) – accidentally cause the death of a fellow student when a prank goes wrong. You see, the unfortunate girl in question (or maybe not that unfortunate: the actress playing her gets out of this movie real quick) had been dating Drew, a guy one of the Hons wants for herself.
One year later a mysterious foreign exchange student turns up and begins dating Drew. The “Hons” plot revenge, but soon all kinds of strange stuff starts happening. Is the foreign exchange student the ghost of the dead girl?
Lurking in the background is a teacher played by Christopher Lloyd (“Doc” in the BACK TO THE FUTURE movies) who suspects that the “Hons” may have had something to do with other student’s death. While Lloyd might be the most recognizable face here, he is in fact the movie’s biggest misstep. Doing a bumbling Inspector Clouseau impersonation, he gets bumped on the head by security boom gates, crushed by automated mechanic chairs, suffers TV sets dropped on his toes, and so on. Ho ho, freaking ho hilarious. (sarcasm anyone?)
Lloyd’s attempts at physical slapstick humour just fall embarassingly flatl It feels as if he has stumbled in from an entirely different movie altogether, maybe CATALINA CAPER, which was a MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 episode. Unfortunately it isn’t just Lloyd’s attempts at humour which misfire: the movie is filled with gags and jokes which simply do not work and are painful to watch. To be honest I cringed with embarrassment for the poor actors. Did they realise that the material was this poor? I don’t know. I still felt sorry for them, never a good sign in a movie.
As the film progresses some vaguely funny bits do pay off, and one realises that maybe BAD GIRLS FROM VALLEY HIGH could have been a passable teen comedy instead of the debacle it is if the screenwriters had another swipe at it. Or maybe if it had spent another day in the editing room and they edited Christopher Lloyd out of the movie!
As a footnote, this movie also stars actress Janet Leigh of PSYCHO, and it is quite sad that a movie that justifiably sat on the shelves for four years or so before being released on DVD turn out to be her last starring role.