Boys and Girls doesn’t fly

By Stephanie Foster

Boys and Girls starts and ends in the same place: on an airplane. The beginning of the film introduces prepubescent Ryan (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and Jennifer (Claire Forlani), sitting next to one another arguing. Fast forward 10 years and these characters are in the same configuration, but madly in love. The plane never actually gets off the ground in either instance, which is a perfect metaphor for this movie.

Boys and Girls follows Ryan and Jennifer through their youthful journeys of love and loss, and we watch them discuss their relationships ad nauseam. Ryan is an uptight engineering student and Jennifer is a free-spirited Latin major (cliché one).

At first, the two dislike each other. However, as they frolic through San Francisco to the beat of some really bad songs, their affection grows. Jennifer seeks solace in Ryan when her heart is broken by bad-boy musicians (cliché two). Ryan sees Jennifer as a stand-in girlfriend, as he’s not very smooth with the ladies. Eventually, the film pulls the oh-gee-whiz-the-love-of-my-life-is-my-best-friend routine, and Ryan and Jennifer fall into bed.

Naturally, sex changes everything, as the film’s tag line goes. Ryan wants a relationship, Jennifer doesn’t know what she wants, and the friendship crumbles as a result. Unhappy or ambiguous endings don’t fit into formulaic films of course, so something drastic has to happen. Suddenly, the music swells, the camera closes in on Jennifer’s face and–surprise! She jumps out of a van in the middle of the freeway and runs to the airport to find Ryan before he flies away (clichés: 3, originality: 0).

Main characters often have satellites, and in this film they are Jennifer’s pal Amy (Amanda Detmer), and Ryan’s roommate Steve (Jason Biggs, last seen humping a pie). These auxiliary characters are poorly drawn, giving the actors little to work with. Detmer’s character is used to execute some half-baked lesbian theme that never goes anywhere, while Biggs is stuck playing a girl-crazy buffoon. To Biggs’ credit though, he is an inherently funny actor who provides comic relief in this movie. Most of the film’s contrived scenarios fall flat, but things pick up when Biggs comes on the screen.

Prinze and Forlani don’t have much in the way of dramatic chops, but neither does the script. This film is best described as a teenage version of When Harry Met Sally. If you’re old enough to buy a beer, you’re probably too old to enjoy this movie. If you’re over 18, a beer beforehand would help.

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