Like Killing Mrs. Tingle before the gerund was changed to Teaching, a teen flick called John Tucker Must Die inevitably raises some concern. Have no fear: The dying in the title is, like, totally metaphorical. Not as wise as Heathers or Election but nastier than John Hughes, JTMD boasts the most stupidly enjoyable teenage romantic spat since Slater and Morris duked it out over Kelly Kapowski.
Set in a lacquered high school whose board of ed has been on an apparent classroom-technology binge, the movie offers a foray into the world of education as beach resort. “Salmon for her, lobster for me,” says basketball star John Tucker (Metcalfe) when ordering for cheerleader Ashanti, who, along with brainiac Carrie (Arielle Kebbel) and vegan sexpert Beth (Sophia Bush), forms a trio of John’s rotating girlfriends. After discovering his infidelity—cattiest gym-class volleyball ever—and miscalculating the old estrogen-in-his-sports-drink trick, they enlist Dave Eggers--reading new kid Kate (Snow) to seduce and destroy their former flame. The writing alternates between sitcom pedantry and fratboy smut, but Betty Thomas (Private Parts) keeps the proceedings agreeably tongue-in-cheek. Real high-school jocks couldn’t turn thongs into a fashion statement, but then, real high-school girls don’t have Jenny McCarthy for a mom. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — Ben Kenigsberg