Although Boys and Girls isn’t the trashy, dim-witted, teen sex movie you might expect, it is an inferior, teen/20-something version of When Harry Met Sally. In Robert Iscove’s (She’s All That) take on the now-classic romantic comedy, the love-torn twosome, Ryan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Jennifer (Claire Folani) meet briefly while in their preteen years, then once in high school, and continue the chance encounters throughout college.

The predictable story line begins with the instant dislike Ryan and Jennifer have for each other, but their mutual disdain subsides and they bury the hatchet. Soon they’re constant companions – and only friends – as each consoles the other through lackluster romantic relationships that leave Jennifer especially hurt and unable to commit, even when the dynamics could change for her and Ryan.

It’s not so bad that Boys and Girls would try to reinvent the decade-old Rob Reiner film starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan – how creative can the romantic comedy genre be? – it’s just that it does the job so obviously and poorly, leaving it void of the components that made When Harry Met Sally endearing. Gone from this version are the charm, the cleverly written dialogue and the true sense of time’s passage creating meaningful experiences and maturity for the two characters and their supporting cast.

Boys and Girls seems destined to be stranded in movie demographics limbo. Because it lacks sophistication and wit, it won’t attract the 30 to 45 crowd that still gets a hoot from the orgasm-lunch scene in When Harry Met Sally. Because it doesn’t have gregarious sex and drinking, like American Pie did, it won’t appeal to the younger set – as the long trail of teenagers filing out of the pre-screening during the film’s alleged climax demonstrated.

Serena Donadoni writes about film for the Metro Times. E-mail her at [email protected].

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