Reviewed by: Debbie Blanton
Find out who you are and try not to be afraid of it.
This is essentially the lesson behind “Never Been Kissed” and, although the movie delivers with a lot of laughs and a few tears, it is marred with several sexual references as well as other offensive material.
Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore) is a shy but bright 25-year old copy editor at the Chicago Sun-Times who yearns to be a reporter. Josie is skilled at her profession, but completely clueless in her personal life. In high school, she was a brainy nerd; a geek to the core—kids called her “Josie Grossie” (a nickname given by her very own brother)—and she has never had a serious relationship with a man in her quarter-of-a-century.
Josie has never, she laments, been really kissed.
But things change for Josie when her dream to become a reporter becomes a reality and she is forced to go undercover at a local high school to report on today’s teenagers. Josie is excited at the prospect of going back to high school again and making up for what she lacked before but, as she soon finds out, things haven’t changed: she still doesn’t quite fit. She quickly begins to relive all of her horrific high school moments yet again.
Josie finally starts to fit in, but it’s with the new generation of “nerds”, not the “in crowd.” Her boss Gus (John C. Reilly) starts putting a lot of pressure on her to make more of an effort with the “in crowd,” since this is where she is sure to find her story.
Interestingly enough, Josie’s younger brother Rob (David Arquette) was a popular guy in high school. A baseball player with potentiality for a college scholarship, his bout with mono kept him from attending college. He now considers his life meaningless as he works at the Tiki Post. Like his sister, he decides to re-enroll in high school and take another chance at living out his dreams of getting into the minor leagues, plus giving help to his struggling sister. He hatches a plan to make his sister popular, and it begins to work!
Along the way, an obvious attraction develops between Josie and her English teacher Sam Colson (Michael Vartan), who is awed by Josie’s wisdom and knowledge. This seemingly inappropriate teacher-student relationship becomes the story her boss is looking for. In dealing with her own emotions, Josie refuses to work on this story as she struggles on resolving her own personal issues.
While the concept of the movie was good, “Never Been Kissed” is not one I would recommend from a Christian perspective. There was about a dozen or more uses of profanity, 2 of which were uses of God’s name in vain (but there were no uses of the “F” word). There were 3 or 4 sexual references to men’s private parts and 4 other sexual references made besides those, one of which was a whole scene where Josie’s co-worker Anita (Molly Shannon) is mistaken for a sex seminar leader. Anita makes some rather crude remarks about sex, leading to a scene where students practice putting condoms on bananas. There is also some dancing sensuality, and 4 brief scenes of a couple of teenagers doing some heavy kissing, mainly in the school hallway. There is also underage drinking and a scene at a bar where Josie is given a piece of cake that is laced with drugs, causing her to get high and go wild. Marijuana is also used. Also, one of the popular girls (who is really skinny already) takes a look at a skeleton and makes the comment “OK, only ex-lax and water ’til prom.” The issue with the relationship between Josie and the teacher is something that you have to decide for yourself. While the audience knows Josie’s real age, her teacher and the other students do not. So, technically, is the relationship okay? This brings up an interesting discussion topic.
Personally, I liked the all-around message of the movie and if it was cleaner I would recommend it. Teens especially (and even some adults) need to hear the message that there are bigger things in life than high school, and ultimately it does not matter whether you were popular or a not… you have to find out who YOU are and try not be afraid of it: you can’t live in the past.
If you want to get the same message and choose to bypass this one I suggest you rent/buy Drew Barrymore’s last movie “Ever After”. It carries the same basic message about finding your inner beauty and confidence in yourself without all the junk in-between.