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NEVER BEEN KISSED ($35) is a very likable little comedy about a high school loser given a second chance to attain some semblance of popularity- ten years after the fact. Drew Barrymore stars as Josie Geller, a highly proficient newspaper copy editor who wants nothing more than to be a real reporter. Josie gets her wish and is assigned to go undercover as a high school student to write an expose on any bit of dirt that she can uncover. Of course, Josie has a huge problem with the assignment- high school was the worst part of her life because she was (and still is) a total geek. Josie knows nothing about becoming part of the "in crowd" and is forced to rely upon her goofy brother Rob (David Arquette), who was Mr. Popularity in high school. With Robís help (which entails his own return to high school), Josie finally finds herself accepted by the "cool" students.

Like many other comedies about high school, NEVER BEEN KISSED is a story about acceptance; acceptance of other people who are socially challenged, as well as acceptance of oneís self. The movie is cute and entertaining thanks to Drew Barrymore who delivers a delightful comic performance that draws the audience into the filmís goofy situations. Speaking of goofy, David Arquette makes the most of his character, a loser in the real world who goes back to high school to relive his glory days. The cast of NEVER BEEN KISSED also includes Leelee Sobieski, Jeremy Jordan, Jessica Alba, Marley Shelton, Jordan Ladd, John C. Reilly and a hilarious turn from Garry Marshall.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment delivers NEVER BEEN KISSED on DVD in a good looking wide screen presentation that has NOT been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Since NEVER BEEN KISSED is a new movie and has been priced at a premium, I find the lack of the 16:9 anamorphic enhancement on this DVD inexcusable. However, despite the lack of the enhancement, NEVER BEEN KISSED looks very good on a 4:3 monitor. The image is sharp and relatively well detailed, although a higher resolution 16:9 enhanced presentation would have looked better. Color reproduction is very good; the filmís vibrant hues and nice looking flesh tones are recreated without distortion. Blacks are strong and the image has pretty smooth contrast. Digital compression artifacts do not degrade the presentation in any way.

NEVER BEEN KISSED features a typical comedy mix on its Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track. Dialogue is clean and well produced, but there is little activity in the peripheral channels, especially the surrounds. There is some stereo separation in the front, but it is mostly in the music. The surround channels exist primarily to add ambience and fill to the music. A Dolby Surround soundtrack is also provided on the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles. The interactive menus are very basic, providing access to the standard scene selection and set up features. A theatrical trailer is the DVDís only supplement and is accessible through the menu system.

Like I said above, NEVER BEEN KISSED is a fun little comedy. Unfortunately, the $35 asking price and lack of the 16:9 enhancement make this DVD a rental title, instead of a purchase title.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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