If you are a teen-age boy, please get up from the computer and take a look next door. If there's a girl there, look closer. Chances are, she's a lot brighter, cooler and better-looking (after a little cosmetic improvement, maybe) than the babe you've been yearning for.
Ah, if only teen swains would take the above advice. According to Hollywood, they'd all be so much happier. For evidence, consult "Whatever It Takes," the latest in a looooooong line of youth-targeted flicks to reiterate the romantic ideology that there's no place like home."
The myopic young buck this time is Ryan Goodman (Shane West). Despite being an accordion-playing semi-nerd, he pines for Ashley Grant (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), his school's resident hottie. Maggie (Marla Sokoloff), the girl next door, rolls her eyes when she's exposed to all this pining, but the babe's cousin Chris (James Franco) thinks that Maggie is pretty cute herself. The plot: Each guy helps the other land his dream date for the prom.
Writer Mark Schwahn borrows shamelessly from numerous sources that range from the highbrow ("Cyrano") to the lowbrow (She's All That), and the movie becomes flimsier with each cribbed scene. Director David Raynr (Trippin') seems to miss the ironic possibilities of such rampant plagiarism, and works hard to keep the proceedings on a level no higher than that of, say, "Porky's." (Speaking of that film, there's a shower scene in "Whatever It Takes," too; but it's a PG-13 shower scene, so prurient interest goes down the drain as well.)
The predictable scenarios don't allow the actors many opportunities to distinguish themselves. We don't even have the guilty pleasure of "discovering" a Rachael Leigh Cook or a Rose McGowan among the various stock portrayals.
The only hope for "Whatever It Takes" rests with you horny teen-age guys. Take the girl next door to see it. Then notice if she looks better without her glasses, or because some other guy is eyeing her. She's the one, she's all that, whatever it takes. Whatever.