The one nice thing about teen-market movies is that you can always rely on them for familiar images: the high-school hallways, the messy, poster-plastered bedrooms, the finale at the prom.
"Drive Me Crazy" offers all these and more. So many more standard teen scenes, in fact -- from the wild party to the cruisin'-the-strip sequence to shots of the surging gym -- that you'll have trouble distinguishing it from She's All That, 10 Things I Hate About You, Teaching Mrs. Tingle and the rest of their ilk.
Yes, it's been a banner year for the 11-to-25 demographic, and "Drive Me Crazy" would like to become a part of that spending surge.
That explains why Melissa Joan Hart, a.k.a. "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," plays the lead role of Nicole, a blond whose high-school colors replace the corpuscles in her veins. She's cute, smart and straight.
After losing her dream date, Nicole persuades her Gen-X-style next-door neighbor, Chase (Adrian Grenier), to pretend to be her beau. Chase's heartthrob has left him too, and by publicly exploring each other's worlds, the two hope to reattract their first-choice steadies.
If you can't predict the end of this flick, you need remedial work in Sex Ed, if not adolescent lit or Dating 101. That this cute couple clinches at the climax goes without saying. Ditto that the ugly nerd gets the centennial queen at the prom, and that the rude jock and conniving slut get their comeuppances. You know the drill.
Is there some evil production lab in Hollywood manufacturing these by-the-numbers plots? Where do studios buy them -- from an infomercial?
The saving grace of these films is that each of the stereotypes they perpetuate does indeed have a real-life counterpart in every high school in every town in America. Honk if you didn't share cafeteria space with a BMOC, a prom queen or a guy (or gal) whose horniness was only matched by his ugliness.
Not that there's anything wrong with dumbing down a repeated situation for entertainment purposes (or moneymaking purposes, either). Indeed, these kinds of harmless entertainments can sometimes become classics. Look no further than the nearest Elvis Presley movie for evidence, and remember that nearly every rock 'n roll movie of the 1950s laid a wheelie in the same dirt.
If you're too young to drive, and have to hassle someone else to drive you to the theater, you'll find some resonance in the fluff called "Drive Me Crazy." It won't matter to you that the movie has nothing to do with driving and isn't particularly crazy. Or that Chuck Berry, James Dean and even Alice Cooper had better grasps on teen angst than writer Rob Thomas or director John Schultz.
You've seen these kids before, and you'll see them again ... probably on Monday morning, when the bell rings.