The little Prinze

Movie: Head Over Heels

Our Rating: 2.00

If Freddie Prinze Jr. ever wants to be more than just a pretty face, he'd better stop making movies like "Head Over Heels." Come to think of it, we'd ALL be better off if everyone stopped making movies like "Head Over Heels."

Prinze has left his mark (A question mark? An asterisk, maybe?) in films like "She's All That" and the "I Know What You Did Last Summer" diptych. But he's best viewed as the perfect guest star for a 30-minute TV sitcom: Think of him waltzing in as somebody's new heartthrob on "Friends" or playing a too-cute rival for "Frasier." He thus looks just grand in this movie, a sitcom swollen waaaayyyy past its romantic or comedic capacity and into an 85-minute feature.

Joining him in this empty-calorie entertainment is Monica Potter ("Con Air," "Patch Adams") and a quartet of beauties (Sarah O'Hare, Shalom Harlow, Ivana Milicevic and Tomiko Fraser) who act as her comedy chorus while providing the film's eye-candy backdrop. Potter's character, Amanda, is an art restorer who moves in with four supermodel roommates, only to discover that she can see into the apartment of a neighbor named Jim (Prinze) who lives just across the airshaft. (Yes, she's literally the girl next door.). Potter falls for Jim ... that is, until she thinks she sees him murdering a woman.

The complications that ensue involve the FBI, Russian baddies and fashion-show denizens. None of it ever rises above simple slapstick: The "highlights" are an exploding toilet, a horny great Dane and the obligatory flatulence.

Director Mark Waters, who teamed with Prinze for "The House of Yes," manages to stay about a half-beat behind the jokes supplied by his four screenwriters. (Two of them, Ed Decter and John J. Strauss, collaborated with the Farrelly brothers on the script for "There's Something About Mary.") We can see every gambit coming well in advance, making Waters' intentions obvious as he lingers on another of the affectionate close-ups that seem to be the real reason this low-budget romance was green-lit in the first place.

With the exception of O'Hare, who shows a talent for pratfalls, the stars of "Head Over Heels" are all as lovely and useless as plastic flowers. Unless you're happy as a pin-up, Freddie, go find yourself something real. Fast.