A 1999 teen romantic-comedy starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook
(in her first leading role). It's a High School
modernization of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion
, which is better known
by the musical it spawned, My Fair Lady
Zack is the Big Man on Campus
and has everything going for him: Hot girlfriend, his choice of university, school soccer star, student council president. When his girlfriend dumps him, Zack bets his friend Dean that he can replace her and make any girl in school prom queen in just six weeks. Dean takes that bet and selects Laney, a poor but clever art student, to be the object of Zack's experiment. Zack gets to work.
Laney is at first hostile to Zack's attempts to get close to her; she's odd but likes herself just the way she is. Eventually, though, Zack worms his way into her friends circle and convinces her to undergo a makeover. Just as the two are getting close, Dean decides he wants Laney for himself. He asks Laney to prom, and when she says no, he reveals that the only reason Zack got close to her was to win a bet. Heartbroken, Laney confronts Zack and shouts the now-infamous line: "Am I a bet? Am I a fucking bet?"
Although Laney vows not to attend prom, the night of Dean shows up at her house and offers to take her. At the dance, he brags to his friends about how he's going to sleep with her. A friend of Laney's overhears and reports it to Zack, who tries to stop the proposed carnality. Meanwhile, the Prom King and Queen are being announced. Who will be the winner? Will Zack stop Dean? Will he and Laney reunite? What do you think?
The movie was incredibly popular in its day and spawned a whole bunch of parodies; probably the best and best known is Not Another Teen Movie
This movie provides example of:
- Almost Kiss: Zack and Laney, before Laney makes a joke about prom
- Alpha Bitch: Taylor Vaughan. Emphasis on bitch. Itís actually hinted in dialogue many times throughout the film that no one — not even her own Girl Posse — can abide her. Indeed, by the end of the movie many of her friends seem to be quite firmly on Laney's side.
- Bad Job, Worse Uniform: Laney's falafel hat.
- Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults: In the men's room at prom, Dean boasts about his plan to score with Laney, unaware that Jesse is in a stall listening.
- The Bet: Prom variety; unusual in that Zack actually loses the bet, although he does get the girl.
- Beautiful All Along: One of the trope definers.
- Beta Couple: Jesse/Mac
Jesse: Good song.
Jesse and Mac: (in unison) It's my favorite.
Jesse: I'm Jesse Jackson. I'm not a good dancer.
Mac: I'm Mac. I go to a school with 500 chicks.
- Big Man on Campus
- Black Best Friend: Preston for Zack and Katie for Taylor.
- Blond Guys Are Evil: Dean
- Burger Fool: Laney has a job at some sort of fast food falafel place.
- Catapult Nightmare: After Zack's bad dream
- Dawson Casting: Averted by Rachael Leigh Cook who actually was a teenager but played straight by others, especially Gabrielle Union and Paul Walker who were both in their mid-twenties at time of filming.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mac, though everyone gets at least a few snarky moments.
- Did You Actually Believe?: Taylor drops this on Zack when she reveals that she's leaving him for another guy rather than remaining a couple after graduation, then on Laney when Laney finds out she's "just a bet" and not really popular. Hilariously gets a taste of it herself though when the guy she left Zack for dumps her in order to not miss out on going back on The Real World. "You didn't think you were popular for real, did you? Oh you did, that's so sweet."
- Dojikko: Laney.
Chandler: It's just... I've seen you in gym class and... you run like a girl.
Laney: I am a girl.
Chandler: Oh, you know what I mean.
- Face Doodling: After she passes out, Laney makes good use of a mean girl's makeup bag.
- Girliness Upgrade
- The Glasses Gotta Go: One of the first steps in Laney's makeover is to take the glasses off
- Grand Staircase Entrance
- High School Dance
- Informed Poverty: Laney is teased with comments like "Isn't your dad my pool man?", yet she lives in a very nice house. Cleaning pools must be a lucrative business in the area.
- Ironic Echo: Several variations on "Did you honestly think I'd _______? Oh, you did. That's so sweet."
- It's All About Me: Brock Hudson. Nothing says it better than getting a portrait tattoo of yourself.
- Ivy League for Everyone: Zach got into several Ivy League schools.
- Jeopardy! Intelligence Test: Subverted; Laney's dad plays, but he gets all the answers wrong.
- Jerk Jock: Dean fits best, but Zack has his moments, too.
- Kiss Diss: The first sign Zack's about to get dumped is his girlfriend evades his kiss. Sort of mirrored later, when Zack leaves Laney hanging in an Almost Kiss.
- Lady in Red: Taylor and Laney at Preston's Wild Teen Party.
- The Makeover
- Male Gaze: Used hilariously doing a beach volleyball match.
- Meaningful Name: Laney is named after two Winona Ryder characters — Lelaina Pierce from Reality Bites, and Kim Boggs from Edward Scissorhands. Also, her first name is one consonant away from "Lady".
- Missing Mom
- Moment Killer: Laney does this to herself twice: When she trips on the stairs, and when she makes a joke before she and Zack kiss.
- Naked People Are Funny
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Insufferable Real World cast member Brock Hudson is not in any way related to Puck Rainey.
- Precision F-Strike: With the camera turned away (for ease of editing for network TV), Laney uses the PG-13-rated movie's single alloted F-bomb to glorious effect.
- Pygmalion Plot
- The Reveal: The famous "walking down the staircase" scene.
- Setting Update
- Show Within a Show: The Real World (although that's actually a real show).
- Steel Ear Drums: Averted, and the aversion played for laughs. When Dean doesn't take no for an answer, it is later revealed that Laney unloaded a foghorn in his ear. When his name is called at graduation, he replies with a "WHAT?!"
- Stock Parody: After 1999, "Girl descends the stairs after getting a makeover" became one of these. (Both Not Another Teen Movie and Clone High did it.)
- Third-Act Misunderstanding
- Title Drop: During the prom rap scene.
- Tomboyish Ponytail
- Wild Teen Party: Preston's bash when his parents are out.