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By Susannah Breslin | July 29, 2000

Loser is for losers.
If you like Loser, you must be a real loser.
Get it?
Loser sucks.
All of this, actually, comes as a shock. A shock because, primarily, director Amy Heckerling brought us the vainglorious paragons of teen-hilarity, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless. And yet, the kind of dead-on accuracy with which she painted adolescent life in all its perverted painfulness is completely mutated here in Loser into the most mind-numbingly sappy depictions of teenhood seen in some time. The second shock is that the trailer for Loser is clearly for another, better film. Someone’s trying to pass the saccharine Loser off to you as American Pie Goes to College, and in a nutshell, it ain’t even close.
In the losers driver’s seat is Jason Biggs (American Pie) as Paul Tannek, and, for starters, what kind of lead character in a wanna-be teen romance/comedy is named Tannek? He’s not so much a loser freshman off to college at a faux NYU, as he is a boringly nice guy with a stupid haircut. Yawn. Mena Suvari (American Beauty) is the similarly dumbly named Dora Diamond–isn’t there a porn star named that already?–who Paul pants after, but Suvari plays Dora so whinily and childishly that a pedophile would be turned off. She, herself, is panting after her lit prof, played by Greg Kinnear (As Good As It Gets), who makes one wonder if As Good As It Gets is as good as it gets with him.
Both lead characters aren’t so much uncomplicated and unrealistic, as they are just enough like those boring freaks you tuned out in freshman year that you’re equally disinterested in these characters as you were those peers. Paul’s rave-ified Three Stooges roommates boot him out for being a dork, and somehow Miss Diamond goes from sleeping in Grand Central Station, to sleeping with Paul in the homeless animal shelter he gets student housing in, to sleeping in her prof’s bed. Along the way: rufies, the stupidest let’s-save-a-baby-kitten-together-scene I thought I’d live to see, and a lot of the kind of heartfelt sentiment Loser’s target teen audience finds so nauseating these days.
The movie’s only brief points of light are in uncredited [DAVID?], all too brief appearances by David Spade as a smarmy video store clerk and the great Andy Dick as a desk-pusher who can’t stop spewing bodily secretions–but hey, he already did that in Road Trip. Loser’s tag-line: “Dare to be different.” Don’t go, and dare to not be a loser.

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