Loser is Uneven, Has Charming Bits
Directed by Amy Heckerling
Written by Amy Heckerling
This is an excellent chronicle* of not fitting in** and has a killer 2000-era soundtrack.*** While I found the performances of Jason Bigg and Mena Suvari subpar, I think this film does represent how awkward starting college in a new town can be. You might only watch this if you are Heckerling completeist or freshman-year curious, but there are some nice scenes.
The verdict: Skip
(unless motivated by the above categories)
Cost: $3.99 via Google Play
Where watched: at home
Consider watching instead:
- Pitch Perfect
- Dear White People
- Mona Lisa Smile
*It’s a lesser chronicle of nuanced characters in that the bad people are very bad and the good people are very good.
**I completely related to the not fitting in plot when I first watched this as I was in the midst of not fitting in at the time.
***”Teenage Dirtbag” starts us off, and it just keeps getting better.
- Would this movie have worked better if the characters had some nuance?
- What was the most memorable scene?
Favorite IMDB trivia item:
In a February 2017 feature at The Ringer that interviewed Amy Heckerling and wrote about her entire career, Heckerling said that the main reason this film failed is that the studio insisted it be delivered as a PG-13 film even though it was intended by everyone else, from Heckerling to the since-departed studio executives who’d greenlit production, as an R-rated comedy. The studio said that R-rated comedies weren’t welcomed by enough audiences and forced the film to be watered down considerably. Heckerling said the movie failed because audiences could tell it was not doing what it was intended to do
(Yet another opportunity to observe that making good movies is hard!)
Other reviews of Loser:
The links are all dead. Here are some takeaways:
- Amy Taubin, Village Voice: The most progressive, good-hearted studio film of the summer.
- Maitlan McDonagh, TV Guide: A sweet-natured and refreshingly uncartoonlike look at the trials of an unworldly Midwestern college boy negotiating his freshman year at NYU
- Kim Morgan, The Oregonian: The script is atypically bland for Heckerling.
For me, the most memorable scene was Jason Biggs, in an effort to fit in, buying a sixer with quarters, only to bring it back and find his roommates had orchestrated a coup.
It just seems like he was bullied rather than a loser.
Yes. I think of “loser” as the thing the roommates called him. I think “bullied” hadn’t really entered the lexicon as a verb in 1999.