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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The Rules of Attraction (review)

I suppose it’s meant to be taken as satire that adolescent mash notes written in flowery language, in silver ink on purple notepaper, crammed with sparkly things and left by a secret admirer — real eighth-grade homeroom stuff — are juxtaposed here with the random, anonymous, drug-fueled, fun-free sexcapades of the overprivileged students of Camden College. If so — and that’s a big if — it’s the only hint of anything even remotely redeeming in Roger Avary’s meaningless and downright disgusting adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s novel (which, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine, is also meaningless and disgusting). So devoid of pleasure or sensuality that it cannot even be dubbed hedonistic, this sordid little film seems to exist solely so that James Van Der Beek — as Sean Bateman, little brother to American Psycho‘s Patrick Bateman, not that it has any bearing on events here — can shed his Dawson’s Creek nice-guy image, but watching him glower with sexual jealousy provides nothing but sheer, if momentary, hilarity, and watching him in the throes of various base gratifications will send you scurrying for a shower to get the heebie-jeebies off you. But that’s nothing to Fred Savage’s cameo, clearly and carefully designed to sear that cute little Wonder Years guy from your brain forever, though now we’re laughing at him instead of with him. Gross, gross, gross! Quick! Get the antiseptic. I’ve got Rules of Attraction all over me!

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MPAA: rated R for strong sexual content, drug use, language and violent images

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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