CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Joel Siegel (Good Morning America), James Berardinelli (ReelViews.net), Susan Stark (Detroit News), Richard Roeper (“Roger Ebert & The Movies”), Chris Gore (filmthreat.com), Andy Jones (“The New Movie Show with Chris Gore) and Wesley Morris (San Francisco Examiner).
* * out of 4 stars (PG-13)
When you see the movie trailer for “Loser,” you may envision a cute romantic comedy with winning characters and a plot that allows you to root for the underdog in this film. But are movie critics rooting for this movie?
“Loser” is about Paul Tannek (Jason Biggs), a nice guy who leaves his small town to pursue an education at a New York college. His raunchy big city roommates declare him a loser and throw him out. Paul falls in love with Dora Diamond (Mena Suvari), a sweet girl he can’t have because she dates an arrogant professor (Greg Kinnear) who treats her like dirt – but she can’t see it.
Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) said, “Dora is so obtuse in her inability to see through the professor and accept her love for Paul that eventually we grow impatient with her.”
Ebert was right. The film’s “Why don’t they get it?” moments are irritating and perpetuate throughout the movie. I thought Biggs and Suvari actually had chemistry together, but unfortunately writer/director Amy Heckerling did not create the “write” formula to nurture their relationship in a fun and believable way.
Joel Siegel (Good Morning America) said we want to like the actors in this film, “But neither Heckerling’s script nor her direction gives us any reason to.” This film was a missed opportunity, yet some critics disagree.
James Berardinelli (ReelViews.net) said, “It’s one of the summer of 2000’s few pleasant surprises.” It was a surprise all right, James. It sucked!
Susan Stark (Detroit News) said, “It’s a movie that supports sincerity (instead of sarcasm), hard work (instead of hedonism), respect (instead of rudeness), kindness (instead of cruelty).”
I think Stark should have watched “The New Movie Show with Chris Gore” (FX channel) or “Roger Ebert & the Movies” (Buena Vista TV) before penning those comments. Both critic shows disliked the film and shared a common concern about the date rape drugs used as a humor.
Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times) said on Ebert’s TV program (July 22, 2000), “Does comedy come out of slipping drugs to women so you could sexually assault them?”
Chris Gore said on his show (July 29, 2000), “These A-HOLES use roofies to drug woman so they can have sex. It’s not funny. It’s actually offensive. Wacky rape jokes just didn’t cut it with the audience.”
What’s sad about this movie is that the roomies (played by Zak Orth, Tom Sadoski and Jimmi Simpson) were the real losers and they’re the supporting characters! Andy Jones (E! Online), Gore’s guest critic, said, “I’m surprised that the roomies weren’t using roofies on each other. They are so gay. They are SO gay!”
The roomies were just plain irritating. Kinnear did succeed as the arrogant teacher and boyfriend, but the chemistry between Biggs and Suvari was wasted in Heckerling’s writing lab. It’s unfortunate because there could have been a really cute love story here.
Wesley Morris (San Francisco Examiner) summed the movie up best: “You don’t simply wish for Dora (Mena Suvari) to realize that she wants Paul (Jason Biggs), you want him to scoop her under his arm and carry her into a better Amy Heckerling movie.”
There was a scene in the film when Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” (Canticle) song began to play. A fantasy entered my mind: That I was watching a film with real substance and depth, a love story of the ages. Then the song stopped and so did my fantasy.
The reality is “Loser” was a movie about an underdog, but ironically became an underdog itself – a two-star loser.
I think the movie’s script came out from under a dog, if you know what I mean.