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Wednesday, January 26, 2000

Down to You

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Kris Isacsson’s Down to You gets down to the lowest common denominator with post-high school romance. Cute student Al Connelly (Freddie Prinze Jr.) meets the love of his life, Imogen (Julia Stiles), at college in New York. She’s a partying, whimsical painter, setting up romantic meetings in art galleries and talking in terms of brush strokes and color. He’s an aspiring chef, enlightened by her dormitory masterpieces and freshman art talk.

And, yes, it’s as bad as it sounds.

Not exactly all that, this new teen flick is another example of a genre getting old before its time. The days of The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles are gone forever. Today, we are hardly able to tell one set of droll, stereotypical movie teens from another. One hip teen looking for love and identity doesn’t stand out anymore against the "Where’s Waldo?" backdrop of too many poorly made movies trying to romanticize the awkward pains of late- to post-adolescence.

Prinze’s performance here is way too close to his valiant efforts in this past summer’s She’s All That for comfort. He’s the same confused young stud with no sense and great hair. He makes all the wrong decisions and still gets the girl. And unfortunately, Stiles (Ten Things I Hate About You) brings us no relief from the schmaltz. The sweet-looking blonde plays the fun-loving, quirky art chick ad nauseam, breaking into an Al Green lip-synch number that settles in the stomach like a big microwave burrito.

Henry Winkler as Al’s wacky TV chef dad, Ray, is about the only salvageable, remotely charming member of the Down to You cast. He’s clueless, obsessed with fine cheese and tactless around his son’s girlfriend. Still, he manages to come off more innocent and interesting than any of the young, self-absorbed mall rats around him.

Sure, Down to You and the rest of the poor carbon copy teen movies released in the last 12 months might ring in as all that and a bag of chips for some viewers. Too bad it’s impossible to distinguish one stale bite from another.

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