The 1999 romantic comedy Never Been Kissed is a definite guilty pleasure of mine, and that’s not just because of the fact that James Franco has a small role in it. Never Been Kissed is a genuinely sweet movie that might not be extremely realistic but is still enjoyable.
Never Been Kissed requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief, largely because Josie Gellar, the character who has” never been kissed,” is played Drew Barrymore. Oh, it’s not that Josie hasn’t ever been kissed. Instead, it’s that she’s never gotten the type of kiss that every girl dreams of getting. She’s never been kissed by someone who she was truly in love with. She’s never had the type of romance that everyone dreams of having (especially when they’re in high school).
However, Josie is about to get a chance to find that kiss. Josie works for a newspaper and her editor (John C. Reilly) has just assigned her to go undercover at a local high school. Unfortunately, Josie was traumatized by her experiences the first time that she went to high school. (She wrote a poem for a boy, he responded by asking her to prom and then throwing eggs at her.) On her first day as a “student,” Josie finds that she is just as unpopular as the last time but now she’s also absolutely out-of-touch with her classmates. Fortunately, she’s befriended by Aldys (Leelee Sobieski) and, soon, Josie has finally managed to find a place with the Denominators, a group of intelligent students.
Unfortunately, hanging out with the good kids isn’t producing the type of stories that Josie’s editor wants. He orders Josie to reject Aldys and to befriend the school’s mean girls. After her brother, Rob (David Arquette), also enrolls in high school, he helps Josie to become the most popular girl in the school. Soon, Josie is no longer hanging out with Aldys and has been asked to go to the prom by the loathsome Guy Perkins (Jeremy Jordan).
However, Josie has fallen in love with her English teacher, Sam (Michael Vartan). Sam likes Josie too but, of course, he thinks that she’s a student. Will Josie tell the truth and risk losing Sam? Will she be able to maintain her cover even when she discovers that her new friends are planning to humiliate Aldys? Will Josie ever truly be kissed?
Well, you can probably guess all the answers. Nothing really surprising happens in Never Been Kissed but it’s still a likable film. For the most part, the actors all do a good job with their stock roles and David Arquette, especially, is hilarious as a professional slacker who thrives in high school precisely because he’s never bothered to grow up. (Of course, by the end of the film, his new high school girlfriend is wanting to know what he’s planning on doing with his life after he graduates….) At no point is the film in any way realistic but it’s still an enjoyable way to spend 110 minutes of your life.