"American Pie" + "American Beauty" = "American Loser"
Review by Ross Anthony

What to expect from a film called "Loser?" Another "American Pie?" We're not so fortunate, "Loser" follows the trials and tribulations of nice guy Paul as he leaves his comfortable small town for the crass rudeness of big city college life. Soon enough Paul's plight becomes a love story as he falls for the only person decent to him -- Mena Suvari of "American Beauty" fame. Too bad she's having a behind the scenes affair with literature Prof. Greg Kinnear.

Speaking of which, Greg Kinnear's appearance in this unstable little film is like the sun itself burning through the fog on a dismal and cloudy day. He's magnificent, his character is rich, and his dialogue completely there!

Unfortunately, the film is not about him. That's not to say Jason Biggs ("American Pie") does a poor job. He's fine and so is Mena Suvari. It's namely the script. Essentially a trifling love story, it attempts to hog an "Animal House" audience with lame gags like:
Roommate, "You got a call today from some fraternity... Gamma something..."
Paul, "Gamma Delta?"
"No, Gamma Goblin, it was a blood bank."

In fact, the beer-drinking, women-drugging, sweat-hog trio comprised of Paul's roommates annoys more than just him. By the end of the first act you may lose your patience for Paul's gullibility and wish to leave yourself. The film flatly fails at the humorous ribbing it appeared to be going for. The funniest bit comes from neither of these three goofs; instead, a geeky Tom Green wannabe civil servant steals the laughs with just 60 seconds of screen time and some phlegm.

Still the chemistry between Paul and Dora isn't bad. Rather, it's a cute little film on it's own planted on hostile ground. Like a seedling choked by weeds, it nearly dies save for the light of Greg Kinnear's sun. Alive, but stunted.

The script is unevenly polished and slightly disjointed. The production misses the mark through the entire first third, however Everclear fanatics might like to know that the band appears briefly.

  • Loser. Copyright © 2000. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, Zak Orth, Tome Sadoski, Jimmi Simpson, Greg Kinnear.
  • Written and Directed by Amy Heckerling.
  • Produced by Amy Heckerling and Twink Caplan at Columbia (C)2000.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:05:06 PDT