Whatever It Takes


Directed by: David Hubbard
Written by:Mark Schwahn
Starring: Jodi Lyn O’Keffe, Shane West, Marla Sokoloff, Manu Intiraymi, Aaron Paul, Julia Sweeney, James Franco
Released: July 13, 2000
Grade: B+

It’s time to head down that familiar road - an American teen romantic comedy.  Ryan (West) and Maggie (Sokoloff) have been next-door neighbours and best friends for years.  Not exactly part of the “popular” club at school, they’re daily highlights seem to come from confiding in each other from their respective bedroom balconies.

Ryan yearns for Ashley (O’Keefe), the most popular girl at school who hasn’t looked twice at Ryan in their entire time at the school.  Ashley’s cousin, Chris (Franco), seems to have a soft spot for Maggie but Maggie finds him too much of a jock to be interested.  From all this, a compromise arises.  Ryan will help Chris win the affections of Maggie if Chris will help Ryan’s chances with Ashley.

Whether deliberate or accidental, Whatever It Takes seems vastly different from previous teen movies.  Firstly, the cast features no big name stars that works effectively since we are not seeing the same, usual actors in their repetitious roles (ala Freddie Prinze Jnr, Julia Stiles, etc).  Secondly, the characters seem to exhibit more human qualities than other films.  Sure they’re predictable but the dialogue and storyline is easier to swallow.

I’m sure the four leading stars are destined for further work.  All have lined up several projects for 2000 and keep an eye out for Sokoloff for her great work in one of TV’s best shows, The Practice.

Like one of my favourite teen flicks, 10 Things I Hate About You, Whatever It Takes’s best feature is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.  It’s not trying to answer life’s impossible questions and is a comedic tale of love-struck teenagers.  It seems almost all these films end with a prom and whilst Whatever It Takes is no exception, it throws up a few surprises including an extremely funny takeoff from Titanic.

We may start off down that familiar road but I ended up in a place I didn’t quite expect.  A teen comedy worth recommending?  Surprisingly, yes.