Starring: Shane West, James Franco, Marla Sokoloff
Director: David Raynr
Running Time: 94 mins
Whatever It Takes is an American film about a geeky high schooler who advises a jock on how to woo his neighbour, while the jock in turn helps him get the school’s most popular girl.
When Hollywood readapts a classic story to the modern day, it’s absolutely amazing. 10 Things I Hate About You, uhh… That’s about it. But you get my point, the high school genre is ripe for retelling some of the world’s greatest stories for new audiences, only it doesn’t always work perfectly.
Whatever It Takes, taking a spin on the tale of Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, unfortunately misses the mark in readapting a classic story for the modern day, proving both too close to the story that inspired it and also too far away to be a worthy adaptation.
That’s a wonderful hypocrisy I’ve just thrown up there, but there is good reason for it. 10 Things I Hate About You worked so well because it was both a smart and subtle adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew, but also because it worked as a high school movie entirely in its own right.
Whatever It Takes, however, bungles its double twist on Cyrano de Bergerac with an overly complex and messy attempt to intertwine two romantic relationships, thereby going too far from the original story, while also being too blatant about what it’s playing from.
Meanwhile, the film doesn’t really have much appeal as a high school comedy in its own right. It’s not particularly funny, the performances aren’t particularly memorable, and although I get a big dollop of early ’00s nostalgia every time I watch these films nowadays, it’s a fairly one-dimensional movie through and through.
Shane West is not convincing as a dweeby counterpart to James Franco’s jock, and the relationship between both and Marla Sokoloff, playing West’s neighbour and Franco’s love interest, is way too convoluted even for this film’s intentions.
If Whatever It Takes had just towed the line with a generic high school formula, I would have called it dumb and left it at that. But the fact that it both suffers from that problem and messes up a retelling of a classic story makes it even more disappointing, and far from an entertaining watch. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 5.9 overall.