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GREGOR SAMSA Scurries Into A Screening Of CHEATERS!!

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

There was a project I first mentioned here on AICN way back in February of this year. In one of my RUMBLINGS, I talked about Andrew Gurland's CHEATERS, which was just getting ready to shoot at the time. Gurland was still new to me at that moment, and since then, I've had the chance to talk to him about the project, and I've also seen a pretty fair sampling of his short film work. If you go to IFilm, you should be able to find BLACK PEOPLE HATE ME & THEY HATE MY GLASSES as well as FUCK GRAMMAGLIA UP, two short films that I find very, very funny. Describing them to you really won't do them justice. They're original, they're wicked, and I really like the sense of humor.

So when Gregor Samsa called me tonight to tell me he'd had a chance to see a screening of CHEATERS, I was interested, and I asked him to send me a report. In the background, I could hear John Robie marching around the Cathouse, adamantly screaming out something about "pretentious crap," but he never did calm down enough for me to talk to him. I liked the script when I read it, and I've heard good things from inside New Line about the movie. Doesn't sound like Samsa's a fan, though, and here he is to tell you why...

Just got in from tonight’s screening of CHEATERS. I have to say that this movie is one of the worst so-called ‘teen movies’ yet. This movie has no soul. It has no heart gives the audience no reason to care about anyone. Here is a brief synopsis of the plot.

Four guys in high school are really good at cheating. They each have their role of importance in the cheating process. The leader of the group is Handsome. That’s his name, Handsome. His role is the smooth guy who can get out of anything. Watch for the permanent and very irritating smirk. Then we have Sammy, Handsome’s best friend since kindergarten. His role I think is supposed to be a lookout or something. Next is Victor. He has Hollywood hair, and he’s very pretty. Puke. He is the enforcer. And last on the list of cheaters is Applebee. His thing is that he can write really really small. Well, they all cheat. Some start feeling like they need to grow up and they all turn on each other. Then everyone hates Handsome. Then everyone loves him.

Ok, that’s the gist. My biggest problem with this film is its inherent lack of a soul. People I am sure are going to lump this in with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and liken it to American Pie. Well, both of those films give us something to hold on to...likeable characters. Cheaters, on the other hand, has a bunch of guys that we are just supposed to like, for no apparent reason. I just read Moriarty’s script review and I can totally where he was coming from. The idea is fun and different, but goddamn, the execution was in the toilet.

The Handsome character is basically based around the director, Andrew Gurland, and whatever happened to him in high school. After seeing the three hour Almost Famous (director’s cut) and absolutely loving it, I am qualified in saying that I don’t mind autobiographical stories. But just because I write a movie about myself and I really dig my life, doesn’t mean everybody else will. The kids are just plain dumb, and EVERY adult in the movie is portrayed as a total idiot. Seriously, EVERY SINGLE ADULT is played as a jackass.

Handsome is always getting himself into trouble and he always finds a way to wiggle himself out. ***SPOILER WARNING*** One scene just makes absolutely no sense at all. Handsome and his Dad are driving somewhere, his Dad tells him he needs to stop cheating or else. Now, think to yourself, what would I say to my Dad if he said that? Would you possibly just tell him “ok” to get through the situation? Or, would you bring up the DOGPORN you found in his closet? I know that sounds funny, and it would be, if it weren’t just so plainly thrown in for American Pie-esque shock value.

Now there is one really funny moment in the film, which is all Matt Lawrence (Victor). I know, I ripped on him for his Hollywood hair earlier, and shit, he is Joey Lawrence’s little brother, but hey, he made the whole audience laugh. I won’t give it away, just in case you have to sit through this movie someday. It involves him talking on the phone to a teachers adopted son and posing as someone else. Now that joke is funny, except for the next half hour they just keep on harping on adopted kids for some reason. I am not adopted, I have no personal agenda, but ten “adopted kid” jokes are a little much.

Another really bad joke was the Asian janitor, Marty. Woohoo, he’s Asian, that’s funny right? What the hell is wrong with people? An Asian accent and being dumb is not funny. It’s cheap as hell.

You know what else isn’t funny? The “weird” girl who calls authority figures “Douchebag.” Nobody even laughed the first time she did it. Her whole point in the movie is to show up, call someone a douchbag a few times, and leave. She is a pointless character with a pointless and consistently unfunny joke.

The only character that actually comes off with a heart is Sammy, but it’s not until about 70 minutes in that we see it. You’ll remember Sammy as Pnub in IDLE HANDS. He is the only character that actually does any growing or really changes at all. I am sick and tired of every teen comedy being set in some alternate universe where every adult is an idiot and every kid is as sly as a fox. Anyway, don’t put yourself through this painful mess, unless you are into that sort of thing.

E-me at the Roach Motel!!

Samsa Out

Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 14, 2000, 6:02 a.m. CST

    Now that was refreshing

    by Wicked Raygun

    About time we get to hear someone air out my own personal angst against "bad" teen movies. Don't get me wrong, there's a few gems out there, but man, do you have to crawl through a mountain of shit to find them!

  • Dec. 14, 2000, 6:33 a.m. CST


    by Silver_shadow

    I hope everyone can hear the happiness in my voice. Oh, well, this movie could be worse. They could actually put in a few of the other token 'teen' stars. By the way, who the hell plays the other characters? Either I skimmed through too quickly again, or there wasn't any info on them.

  • Dec. 14, 2000, 9:40 a.m. CST

    And I thought American Pie Sucked...

    by SteelyMax

    If Samsa actually liked American Pie as a teen movie and then hated this movie, it must be the worst pile of celluloid ever printed.

  • Dec. 14, 2000, 12:45 p.m. CST

    To the douchebags who made this shitty movie:

    by Junior D-Girl

    I HATED IT. Cheaters are assholes!! Not role models!! This is the result of letting immature filmmakers have their way, we wind up with nothing. But then that's par for the course these days. Let's put the teen movie to bed it needs a rest. As do the manager-producers who sold this script and the boy wonder exec at New Line who supervised it, these guys are cheating themselves and audiences into thinking cheaters are worthy of admiration. Well guess what boys, they aren't.

  • Dec. 14, 2000, 1:32 p.m. CST

    'cheaters' coulda ruled...

    by tommy5tone

    moriarty's script review put this on my cool list (but then again, he was mad keen on 'the story of us'...), but this sounds like a right fuck-up now. why didn't they go with the sweet-sounding high version of 'goodfellas' rather than another stale slice of 'american pie' (which kinda sucked BTW - 'road trip' was a far superior teen movie)? five-tone with little to say but sayin' it anyway and OUT.

  • Dec. 14, 2000, 1:48 p.m. CST

    agree with Tommy...

    by SteelyMax

    I agree that Road Trip is underrated as a teen movie. It was funny and actually had a point to it - unlike American Pie, which i'm not even getting into...

  • Dec. 14, 2000, 3:40 p.m. CST


    by filmgeekazoid

    whatever happended to that other cheater movie Slackers?

  • Dec. 14, 2000, 6:06 p.m. CST

    So in other words this movie spinks? Paging Bob Shaye:

    by Troublemaker2000

    It spinks on ice, is that the general thrust of this Talkback? Ah well can't win 'em all I guess. As the old saying goes, cheaters never prosper...except in Hollywood at New Line, speaking of which here's a memo from New Line prez Bob Shaye as reported on ''Things got really confusing when Shaye -- this time speaking off the cuff and nearly tearing up a couple of times -- reminded employees that New Line may claim to work harder, be smarter and outdistance the other studios, but that just wasn't true this year. He went on to say that, when talking to investors over the past 30 years, New Line's motto was 'M-G-M, not Metro Goldwyn Mayer, but Make Good Movies. Except this year it's been a lot more like MSNBC: Make Some Not Brilliant Clunkers.' It is important to note that this moment was not played for laughs. ''An awkward, grade-school-esque move came late in Shaye's speech, when he demanded that everyone in the room 'not interested in serving our customers, the people,' get up and leave, 'because you're at the wrong company, if not in the wrong industry.' You could hear a pin drop. ''Of course, the other big news of the night was that production head Mike De Luca knew exactly what this speech was going to entail and no-showed his first Christmas party in years out of protest, a fact that certainly lends credence to the newest rumors of his departure. ''At least Quentin Tarantino had a good time.'' However, DeLuca's nonappearance may only have surprised the non-New Line attendees, says one person at the company. ''No one holds it against him that he didn't go -- no one expected him to go,'' says the staffer. ''Management is blaming him for a bad year -- it's unfair that he is being held totally accountable, so why would he go?'' While we're spreading the Christmas cheer, what follows is the text of a Dec. 1 letter sent by Shaye to the New Line staff: Dear New Liner, Not only has this year slipped so quickly through our fingers, it has done so with more than the normal amount of turmoil. In short, besides corporate and intra-corporate issues, it was unfortunately scarred by over-budgets, and under-achievement in our production activities. The results are not pretty: a dismal year in our company's history. In learning about the vagaries of professional life, I'll take a page from a real champion, Ted Turner. He knows that it's very difficult to win the pennant, let alone the series, every year. But even if it's tough, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try like hell to be back on top in the twelve months ahead and beyond. We've got some promising movies coming up, hopefully to be crowned with Lord of the Rings next Christmas. In all events, top is where we belong, and I intend to do my best to put us back there. I hope I can count on you to be busting your hump, right along side mine. My warm wishes for an enjoyable holiday season, and for the joy of accomplishment in the year ahead. Sincerely, Robert Shaye//CC: Bender-Spink-Brener/Gurland

  • Dec. 15, 2000, 2:51 p.m. CST


    by Reverb

    The script SLACKERS is now the movie HOOKING UP ETHAN. Stars Devon Sawa, Jason Schwartzman, actress/supermodel James King, Michael Maronna. It's due in the spring of 2001.

  • Dec. 15, 2000, 8:51 p.m. CST

    Wasn't this fucking thing an HBO movie already?

    by Darth Philbin

    It had Jeff Daniels and was based on a true story of a chickenhawk that helped a bunch of inner-city dumbasses to beat a private school in an academic decathalon. It was pretty fucking good, too. It's bad enough that every movie has the same fucking plot nowadays, let alone the same fucking title. Although the late night Cinemax favorite "Sexual Matrix" was way better than that steaming pile of Warshitski.