New Best Friend
2002, R, 91 min. Directed by Zoe Clarke-Williams. Starring Rachel True, Oliver Hudson, Meredith Monroe, Taye Diggs, Dominique Swain, Meredith Monroe, Mia Kirshner.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 12, 2002
A remarkably bad film that's also remarkably entertaining by sheer anti-virtue of its oversexed awfulness, New Best Friend is the trashy teen-sleaze equivalent of Showgirls. It's easy to imagine this developing the same sort of midnight-movie appeal that Paul Verhoeven's strippers-in-wonderland epic has accrued, the so-bad-it's-good patina of a terrible film that realizes just how lousy it is and just doesn't seem to give a damn. Director Clarke-Williams had a hand in MTV's cheerfully cheesy sex-romp soap opera Undressed, and New Best Friend, with its endless scenes of hot girl-on-girl action and inane dialogue, works in the same icky vein, albeit with a larger budget and a moral center that bounces around like a ferret in a microwave. For everyone who didn't get enough sneerage from the Tri-Delts while at university, this is your revenge-cum-fantasy, and oh, what a sordid and guilty pleasure it is. Victoria Strouse's screenplay is pure B-movie fluff: Kirshner plays Alicia, a bookish nerdgirl enrolled at an upper-crust North Carolina university on a scholarship. When she falls in with a trio of wealthy socialite scionistas led by the scrawnily sexy Hadley (Monroe), who for some unexplained reason decided to primp up Alicia and make the gang a foursome, she suddenly falls into the pampered sort of life typified by bad acid trips, steamy bi-sex (with Lolita herself, Dominique Swain), and an utter lack of regard for her studies. She also goes on the prowl for new best friend Hadley's varsity hunk boyfriend Josh (Hudson) and invokes the ire of her old classmates. Best of all, Clarke-Williams' film relates all of this in confusing, overlapping flashback. When we first meet Alicia she lies comatose in a hospital bed, a dark bruise on her forehead and breathing apparatus in her slack mouth, the victim of an (apparent) overdose. Sheriff Bonner (Diggs) thinks otherwise however. Although the dean warns him none-too-subtly that “80% of the jobs and 90% of this town's income is from this university,” Bonner digs on nonetheless, interviewing Hadley and cronies Julianne (True of The Craft, who, frankly, is getting a bit long in the tooth to be playing these teen roles) and Sydney (Swain, the group's mack-mommy). In between bewildering flashbacks and shockingly unshocking revelations (at one point, searching for clues, he spies a bit of multicolored paper in Alicia's bedroom and, kneeling down for a closer examination, mutters, “Multicolored paper -- I've seen this before.” Well, duh.), Diggs makes little to no headway until the film's limp conclusion, which is built around a revelation so banal it manages to give the film one final, goofy surge of stupid charm. Kirshner has a giddy, manic charm throughout; she forever appears on the verge of a methamphetamine jag, but my vote for most Muffy-licious turn here goes to a preeningly snotty Monroe, whose character arc has her ricocheting from bad girl to good and back again. And what's with that splint on her arm, anyway? Incomprehensible for all but a few moments (the LSD/toilet paper sequence must be seen to be believed), New Best Friend is 90 minutes of ridiculous, silly fun. Of course, it's still a very bad movie.