Full of It

Empty

Empty

While it's not always a foolproof barometer, in most cases when you see six writing and 10 producing credits on a movie, you can anticipate a fair amount of confusion about the story the film wants to tell. That's the situation in "Full of it," a complete muddle of intentions, execution and tone. The movie certainly hasn't convinced New Line to throw good money after bad as the comedy opens today in 15 markets, not including Los Angeles or New York, for a quick payoff.

Filmmakers have long recognized that high school makes a terrific arena for social satire and comedy in films ranging from "Heathers" to "Mean Girls" and "Election." There is a glimmer of such a comedy in "Full of It," but this is quickly swamped in overextended gags and broad caricatures.

Sam Leonard (Ryan Pinkston) is about to enter his senior year in yet another small-town school, which he hopes will mark a new beginning. Socially, Sam is a nerd -- a whiz at math but too short, too geeky and too burdened with goody-goody parents (John Carroll Lynch and Cynthia Stevenson) to belong to any "in" crowd.

When he gets off on the wrong foot, a guidance counselor (Craig Kilborn) blithely advises him to lie about everything. Sam's lies aren't very convincing: The dog ate his homework, his dad is an aging rock star, and he can't miss as a point guard in basketball. Then, suddenly, all his lies come true.

The only question is -- why? When Jim Carrey's slick lawyer in "Liar Liar" finds himself unable to lie for 24 hours, it's because of the "movie magic" of his son's birthday wish. But why does Sam's dog eat his homework, his dad turn into a rock 'n' roller and Sam hit only the bottom of the net from everywhere in the gym? It this an alternate reality or a dream? The six-man writing crew decides it's because a mirror broke in Sam's bedroom. Huh?

Even if you ignore how the movie gets to this point, the lies turned into truths are played poorly and sloppily under the lifeless direction of neophyte helmer Christian Charles. Even a gag involving Carmen Electra falls flat, and you don't often see the words Carmen Electra and flat in the same sentence.

One running gag is downright creepy. Sam's curvaceous English teacher (Teri Polo) coming on to her bewildered student hits the wrong sort of scandalous note. Another gag about Sam slugging the principal is equally sour.

The movie never finds a smooth way to get back to Kansas from Oz. Another mirror breaks, and abruptly Sam's father returns from the road with a normal haircut and Sam can't hit a basket to save his life.
Production values are indifferent, with off-putting colors in some interior scenes and overstated set designs.

FULL OF IT
New Line Cinema
An Atmosphere Entertainment MM/Mark Canton and Relativity Media production

Credits: Director: Christian Charles; Screenwriters: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore; Story by: Yoni Berkovits, Tony Dreannan, Tom Gammill, Max Pross; Producers: Steve Barnett, Mark Canton; Executive producers: Toby Emmerich, Matt Moore, Mark Kaufman, Charlie Gogolak, Ryan Kavanaugh, JC Spink, Lynwood Spinks; Director of photography: John Swihart; Production designer: Kathleen Climie; Music: Kramer Morgenthau; Co-producer: Jeffrey Lampert; Costume designer: Abram Waterhouse; Editor: Susan Shipton. Cast: Sam Leonard: Ryan Pinkston; Annie Dray: Kate Mara; Mrs. Morgan: Teri Polo; Mike Hanbo: Craig Kilborn; Mr. Leonard: John Carroll Lynch; Mrs. Leonard: Cynthia Stevenson; Vicki Sanders: Amanda Walsh.
MPAA rating PG-13, running time 91 minutes.

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