- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Miramax declined to provide press screenings for "Get Over It," a frequently botched but also fitfully promising and appealing musical comedy about high school romantic dejection and recovery. Since many a shabbier picture does rate the courtesy of press screenings, its a little difficult to deduce why this hit-and-miss specimen is being singled out for the equivalent of a weekend grounding.

I cannot envision "Get Over It" provoking a hostile, vindictive press. Moreover, a strong case could be made that in the wake of "Bring It On," any high school movie with Kirsten Dunst in the cast and "It" in the title deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Miss Dunst is cast as a sweet-voiced junior named Kelly who looms as consolation for the demoralized hero, Ben Foster as senior Berke, dumped by his long-standing sweetheart, Allison (Melissa Sagemiller). Intent on changing her mind, Berke impulsively auditions for the spring musical, a pop adaptation of "A Midsummer Nights Dream." Its directed by a monstrously insecure faculty member, Desmond Forrest Oates, portrayed by Martin Short, well short of his "A" game, alas.

Allison is cast as Hermia and Kelly as Helena. Berke, relegated to Third Attendant, stews while a new rival, Shane West as a smug British transplant named Striker, monopolizes Allisons attention, enjoying the advantage of playing Demetrius. An emergency permits Berke to take over the role of Lysander. By the time the curtain falls, Striker has been repaid, disproportionately, for being an amorous sneak, and Berke has awakened to the fact that Kellys fondess can compensate for Allisons defection.

All of this sounds agreeable enough. It might have been better than agreeable if making the most of the premise had been uppermost in the minds of all collaborators. According to the press material, Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein suggested the "Midsummer Nights Dream" angle, perhaps superstitiously influenced by the success and prestige of his companys Oscar-winning "Shakespeare in Love."

Marc Shaiman was hired to supervise a song score for the play excerpts. Two wistfully pretty ballads are entrusted to Miss Dunst, one as an audition piece and the other as an opening-night crowd-pleaser.

For all one knows, either could catch on and make the Academy Award finals a year from now. For the record, the titles are "Take a Look" and "A Dream Away." The movies obvious shortcomings are chronic neglect, abysmal taste and excruciating inconsistency.

An attractive sequence or tendency often is sabotaged promptly by coarseness or ineptitude, suggesting an almost Jekyll-and-Hyde curse in director Tommy OHaver. A witty production number accompanies the opening credits: Berke trudges away from Allisons house with a box of his belongings, trailed by a quintet and then an entire neighborhood, allied in a mocking rendition of the vintage Captain and Tennille number, "Love Will Keep Us Together."

What the movie needs is a methodical accumulation of deft and beguiling interludes, such as one in which Miss Dunst and Mr. Foster do a little piano duet on the "Alphabet Song." If "Get It Over" had been contrived to build on a succession of similarly disarming and/or melodic moments, theres no telling how much charm it might have acquired.

Under the pressure of fundamental contempt for the target audience, presumed to consist of teen-age clods, the movie underrates itself into a rubbishy condition.

Theres also a major oversight in the Shakespearean department: a failure to do anything with the scenes about Bottom and the "rude mechanicals," who could have been exploited to bond school jesters and jocks with the Bard.

The lanky Colin Hanks, son of Tom, looks like a promising candidate for this kind of fun. Cast as Felix, Kellys older brother and Berkes best friend, he does suggest funny possibilities in a different context.

Two out of four stars

TITLE: "Get Over It"

RATING: PG-13 (Fleeting profanity and nudity; occasional comic and sexual vulgarity)

CREDITS: Directed by Tommy OHaver

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

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