John Tucker Must Die (2006): Barely Even Trying to Be a Film


I suppose I could look on a Wikipedia page to learn about the production of this film, but I already have an idea of how this film came about that I don’t want to ruin it. Remember Jesse Metcalfe? He of the perfect waxed chest, and symmetrical face? He played a teenage gardener on Desperate Housewives (believe it or not, that used to be the must-watch show) and he was the next! Big! Thing! So there was a mad scramble to get him a film vehicle. The script for John Tucker had been laying around in some studio for years until someone dug it out and shrugged “hey, good enough.” But the script wasn’t really finished and literally did not have an ending to the film. Who cares? They would show Metcalfe’s abs.

I am especially annoyed when “teen” comedies are bad, because I feel like many producers assume that movies aimed at teens don’t need to be smart or well-written, that as long as there is teen stuff in it, it will pass. Teenagers are not as stupid as they act sometimes. Think Ten Things I Hate About You, Clueless and oh, I don’t know, practically every John Hughes movie. Those are good movies, and not just for teens. John Tucker Must Die is one of those bad movies that assumes its audience are fucking morons.

Jesse Metcalfe plays the titular character, a high school basketball star and notorious womanizer. Kate, played by Brittany Snow, is the new girl at school who is used to just being in the background because she has moved around a lot in life because her mother, stunt-casted as Jenny McCarthy, meet, falls in love, marries, and then divorces many men. Which, not to slut shame, but jesus christ, get a handle on things, you have a daughter to consider. I don’t know if it is a character choice, and if not, no offense to Ms. Snow, but she speaks in a high-pitched baby voice which is ever so grating. Secondly, no girl that looks like her is ever ordinary. Sure, actresses in general are better looking than the best looking person you know in real life, but come on, it is hard to believe she is an invisible in her high school.

Kate works as a waitress in the town’s seemingly only fancy restaurant, and she discovers that John Tucker repeatedly brings girls to this place and claims that they are the one, including a trio of walking male-centric sexual fantasies, including Girl 1, who is the “smart girl”, Girl 2, the “slutty girl” but is also vegan, so, depth! And Girl 3, the “bitchy cheerleader” played by Ashanti, who looks about as much as a high school student as I do Jenny McCarthy. She decides to speak up and tell the three of them they are being had, and thus begins the plan to destroy John Tucker.

Commence “pranks” to humiliate him, including locking him out of his hotel room on an away game in a lacy red thong, but John’s popularity overcomes and suddenly everyone is school is wearing a thong. Don’t even get me started when seemingly “gay” behavior are used as humor. When the pranks don’t work, they gang comes up with the ultimate revenge: they want John to have a taste of his own medicine: have him fall in love with Kate, and then she will crush him. Kate talks her baby talk and bats her eyes, and John Tucker is in love, and as is Kate BECAUSE WE DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING. However, John Tucker is a shallow stereotype, and there’s nothing spectacular about Kate, so I can’t see why anyone would even give a crap about their so-called budding relationship that develops after a three minute interaction t a bonfire.

Ultimately, John finds out the plan at his birthday party, which is somehow held at a large concert venue, because POPULAR, and he confronts Kate and the gals on their deception in front of everyone, and with all eyes on Kate expecting answers, goes over to the comically large birthday cake and starts a food fight. END. FIN. DONE. No resolutions, no apologies, no lessons learned. It’s like the script literally stopped and someone was all, “hey, how about a food fight?”. Did they think the audience wouldn’t notice that they didn’t even finish the fucking movie?

A half-hearted epilogue tells us that John eventually learned his lesson, but still dates a lot of girls but informs them up front that he’s a womanizer. Ok, great? Kate and the trio eventually become friends, and Kate starts dating John Tucker’s nerdy younger brother, because STORY. Kate is nothing but a mcGuffin for the whole story, and the three other girls are horrible, unlikeable people who don’t even seem to have friends of their own, and as mentioned, are three different imagined sexual fantasies. The excitement of having a setting of a high school is watching the interactions among all the different social groups, but the only people that seem to attend this school are sports jocks and these three hot women. Students are only popular when, newsflash, other students find them popular, so take away the rest of the students, you just have vapid, uninteresting beings who exist for sexual conquests. Making one character vegan does not a personality make, even if you think “he unhooked my hemp bra” is a funny line, which I swear to god I hope you don’t.

John Tucker Must Die thinks it is a comedy, I suppose, but the comedic elements are not funny, and maybe it even fancies itself a dark comedy because hey, from the title, it seems that the three women are actually plotting to murder him, which would have actually made a more interesting plot. I can see the pitch now: “It’s like HEATHERS meets THE BREAKFAST CLUB meeting CLUELESS meets GOODFELLAS meets PRETTY IN PINK meets JENNY MCCARTHY IS A MILF” or something like that. A film like Heathers understands dark comedy, a film like John Tucker Must Die only thinks that throwing awful but attractive people being mean to each other makes for a dark comedy. The teenage life of this high school exists only in a Hollister ad, and that of a two dimensional print ad.

It’s four years later and where is Jesse Metcalfe now? Mission not accomplished.



Add yours →

  1. Sounds AMAZING.

  2. Wow…John Tucker Must Die had almost flawless comedy timing..Truly impressive emotional & plot escalation…Fantastic characters & acting, and was freaking hilarious, all wrapped in the guise a “silly”teen comedy. I came to this site searching for the screenplay, which is vastly underrated. WTF movie did you watch?

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