Sugar & Spice

Directed by Francine McDougall
Starring: Marley Shelton, James Marsden, Mena Suvari, Marla Sokoloff, Rachel Blanchard, Sara Marsh, Melissa George.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, sex-related humor and some thematic elements.

Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <evy@filmhead.com>
January 30, 2001

I had a horrible time rating this movie. You see, I loved this film; yes it was flawed; yes it was cheesy; yes it was stupid, but IT WAS WONDERFUL! The average viewer, and especially the average teen, will probably think this film is dumb, but there are filmgoers such as myself who LOVE THE CHEESE. If you loved Idle Hands, own the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer and think Clueless is one of the best films ever made -- RENT THIS MOVIE.

The narrative structure is taken from The Usual Suspects (yes, you read that right). The film starts off with the "A" cheerleading squad in a police line up. Then the story is told through a police interview with Lisa, a bitter "B" squad cheerleader, (Marla Sokoloff). Through Lisa’s biased commentary we learn how perfectly perky Captain of the Cheerleader Squad Diane (Marley Shelton) and perfectly popular Captain of the Football team, Jack (James Marsden) get together, get pregnant, get kicked out of their parents homes, and move in together. In order to support themselves and their soon-to-be babies (twins), Jack gets a job at a video store and Diane works at the bank branch in the supermarket. This routine still leaves them broke, so Diane and the rest of the "A" squad rob the bank branch of the supermarket right in front of the ever-watchful and ever-bitter Lisa. The film ends with a slightly dissatisfying plot twist and amusing descriptions of what happens to the characters after graduation.

Advertised as a teen-comedy, this is more of a satire of teen life, dreams, and stereotypes. The acting, dialogue, and direction are delightfully over the top. Marley Shelton is dead-on as Diane Westen, who is wonderfully perky, positive, and cute always. She also gets the best lines, chock full of cultural references and inspirational clichés. James Marsden, who was horrid in Disturbing Behavior and barely adequate in X-Men, is delightfully dumb in a part that requires very little of him except that he be cute and smile. He does both beautifully. Rachel Blanchard and Melissa George also play their roles of virginal horse lover and sex obsessed Conan O’Brian fan to the hilt and with great glee. Only Mena Suvari as the bad girl, Kansas, is disappointing. She falls short of a cartoon bad girl and doesn’t fit with the rest of the cast.

The film also chickens out a little bit towards the end and pulls away from a truly satiric ending where the girls get away with it simply because they are popular and therefore untouchable. Instead there is a surprise ending that feels tacked on and not consistent with the rest of the film. However, Sugar & Spice is still a whole bunch of fun and should be enjoyed with lots and lots of sugar and some crackers for the cheese.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Sugar & Spice (2001)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
Sugar & Spice (2001) -- VHS
Sugar & Spice (2001) -- DVD
Sugar & Spice: Soundtrack -- Compact Disc


FilmHead.com Home
Review Archive
Video Pick of the Week
Guide to Star Ratings

webmaster@filmhead.com

Review © 2001 Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles
Page Layout © 1999-2000 Matt Heffernan