Re-Watch: Never Been Kissed (1999)

Never Been Kissed
Director: Raja Gosnell
Writer: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
Cast: Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, Michael Vartan, Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly, Garry Marshall, Sean Whalen, Cress Williams, Octavia Spencer, Leelee Sobieski, Jeremy Jordan, Jessica Alba, Marley Shelton, Jordan Ladd, Katie Lansdale, Branden Williams, James Franco
Seen on: 1.4.2021

Plot:
Josie (Drew Barrymore) is a copyeditor at the Sun-Times, but she would like to be a reporter. Her chance comes quite surprisingly when her unpredictable boss (Garry Marshall) tells her to go undercover at a high school to figure out what kids these days are up to. Josie is so excited about the opportunity, she doesn’t remember that she was bullied in high school. But once she is back, all her old memories flood back again. Maybe this time, though, Josie has a chance to do better.

It has been many years that I watched Never Been Kissed, but I remembered it very fondly. I’m happy to report that it is still an utterly charming film with a cute love story.

The film poster showing Josie (Drew Barrymore) sitting on the floor, one of her knees pulled to her chest.

Not everything about Never Been Kissed aged perfectly. The creepy vibes Josie’s brother Rob (David Arquette) gives off while dating a high school student aren’t exactly great, though the movie does manages to exit that storyline before it gets really, really fucked-up. It is a little better with Josie’s crush on her “class mate”. And of course, there is an inherent problem with Sam (Michael Vartan) falling for Josie since he believes she is his student and a minor. But the film handles it as well as can be handled and makes the love story here completely enjoyable.

And enjoyable is just what the film is. The story hits all the expected beats of a RomCom and is always emotionally engaging. When Josie is humiliated (both in past and present), her humiliation crawled up my own body. When she is in happy, you can’t help but smile with her. When everything ends well, it feels like you should be clapping.

Josie (Drew Barrymore) reading something in class.

The film’s weakest part, for me, were the more slapsticky elements. But at least they were really kept to a minimum. The film is funny, but it’s heart is in the romance. And, of course, in Josie herself with Barrymore giving us probably one of the best performances of her career, making us believe Josie completely in everything, despite her character being a little overwrought.

In short, Never Been Kissed is a RomCom you can turn to always and you will get what you’re hoping to get from a RomCom. I’ll be watching it again.

Josie (Drew Barrymore) dancing with Sam (Michael Vartan) at the prom.

Summarizing: wonderful.

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