John Tucker Must Die Betty Thomas

Who knew that the penalty for getting the first accurate and enjoyable teen comedy in ages with 2004’s Mean Girls would be suffering through copycats that expose their plagiaristic tendencies within the opening credits? It’s a hard pill to swallow, considering how well Mark Waters and Tina Fey did with their film two years ago. The opportunity is certainly there for others to step up, but John Tucker Must Die merely pushes the clock back for teenhood a good 15 years.

The title character (Desperate Housewives’ Jesse Metcalfe) is high school’s most popular guy: he’s rich, the captain of the basketball team, with a dreamy smile and a history with every girl in school. When he messes with three of the wrong girls (Sophia Bush, Arielle Kebbel and Ashanti, who is really stretching reality playing a role she is eight years too old for), they gang up and plot revenge, transforming new girl Kate (Brittany Snow) into the girl of his dreams before the twist of the knife. Well, it works and everything happens as you would expect, leaving very few surprises.

The jokes are stale, the vengeful actions have been done better (revealing his faux genital herpes problem, slipping him estrogen, exposing him in a thong), the music is insipid and other than superficially dropping a message of "be true to yourself and don’t lie!” into the remaining minutes there is no real direction or purpose.

In the end, John Tucker reveals itself as some half-assed vehicle to promote wimpy emo bands that have yet to seduce the MySpace generation (notice the film’s official site is via MySpace). Because, if its goal is not pushing music, I have no idea what the point of this film is. (Fox)