New Best Friend (2002)
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Review Date: April 09, 2002
Director: Zoe Clarke-Williams
Writer: Victoria Strouse
Producers: Frank Mancuso Jr.
Mia Kirshner as Alicia Grazer
Meredith Monroe as Hadley Weston
Dominique Swain as Sydney Connors
A nerdy, underprivileged girl with solid grades is made partners with a bitchy rich girl for one of her classes, and soon finds herself indulging in things she'd never tried before, like sex, drugs and rock 'n roll (okay, maybe not rock 'n roll, but it sounded good). Anyway, after a while, the rich girl and her friends begin to notice even greater changes in the geek, and it isn't long before someone OD's and the cops get involved. Was there a crime committed? Oh my God...how will you live without knowing the answer to that question!! Yawn.
I can see how this film might be considered a "guilty pleasure" in some circles, but for me, it just didn't gel as a cohesive whole. First of all, it's being promoted as a major thriller, but I will guarantee you one thing right now: there are no thrills in this movie! That aside, it does actually manage to set-up a half decent premise, only to get bogged down in too many flashbacks, too few surprises, very little character development and a whole bunch of unoriginality. Have we not been down this road a million times before? The whole "outsider trying to fit in with the cool crowd" thing? Many other films came to mind while watching this movie as well, including JAWBREAKER, CARRIE, THE IN CROWD, HEATHERS and LESS THAN ZERO, just to name a few, only this film did very little to break the mold. Oh sure, the lesbian scene featuring the lovely Mia Kirshner going to lip-to-lip with the even lovelier Dominique Swain, is one for the books, but if you asked me what the hell that sequence had to do with the actual story...I'd be hard-pressed to give you a sensible response. In fact, as the film tagged along, it slowly began to unravel before my very eyes, until it ultimately decided that it needed to flash back to previous flashbacks in order to clear things up for the audience? C'mon people, if you can't tell a coherent story without having to resort to montages of prior scenes from your own movie, there's something "off" in your narrative and your editing. In fact, there's plenty "off" in the editing when I feel the need to lean over to my movie-buddy and ask basic questions like "who's that person that they're talking about?" or "where does this scene belong in the time-line?"

But even though the last twenty minutes does feel rushed and incoherent, I do have to say that most of the film was "okay" and somewhat engaging, although in a very "video flick" type of way. You've got your basic mystery, a few girls all looking suspicious (and luscious in them tight tanktops, I might add) and the great Taye Diggs, hot on their trail (keep changing those shirts, buddy!). There was also plenty of titillation, including the aforementioned lesbo action, as well as lots of drinking, drugging up and partying. Of course, the fact that these people seemed to have a party every single goddamn night was a little unbelievable, but hey, I ain't rich and snobby, so maybe I'm clueless about that scene. The actors were also pretty decent, although none particularly intrigued me enough to care, other than Dominique Swain, who looked hot as hell (and all I really "cared" about was her shirt...coming off!!). The director also tries out a few ambitious shots, but she completely lost me during the final act, and once everything was revealed and out in the open, I was even less impressed by what they proposed as the resolution. Was that it?? Pretty anti-climactic, if I say so myself. But if a low-grade B-movie about a nerdy chick attempting to fit in with the "hip" crowd and a drug overdose crank your dial, you might want to toss this into your lazy weekend video selections, but even then, know full well that there isn't anything new that's going to pop up on your screen. What might "pop up" off screen, is another question altogether. Incidentally, the Arrow suggested that a better title for this film might've been the simpler "Whores", which is a pretty accurate description of the lovely ladies in the movie. Anyway, no big whoop, nothing new to see, zero thrills, too many flashbacks and a choppy ending make for a bad film.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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