Never Been Kissed is a film about second chances. Similar in ways to Peggy Sue Got Married, the film gives its lead character a chance to relive her not-so-glorious days of high school (albeit without the time travel twist). Never Been Kissed is fluff…but it’s likeable fluff.
The hopelessly geeky Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore) has become the youngest copy editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, and is assigned her first undercover reporting assignment: to go back to high school, and gain an understanding of kids today. An easy assignment, or so it seems, until Josie finds herself reliving her tormented high school past.
Spurned by the popular set, Josie finds refuge with a friendly girl, Aldys (Leelee Sobieski) and her nerd clique, the Denominators. But she still desperately longs to be popular, and to be noticed by the cute, popular guy, Guy (Jeremy Jordan), or her cute English teacher Sam (Michael Vartan).
Josie’s primary confidante is her slacker brother, Rob (David Arquette). Cheated out of a baseball scholarship by an ill-timed attack of mono, Rob now spends his life working at a Hawaiian-themed copy shop. But, inspired by Josie, he sees an opportunity for a second chance. He, too, returns to high school with the hopes of being spotted by a minor league baseball scout.
None of this is breathtaking stuff, nor does it try to be. Never Been Kissed sets its sights on being slight and enjoyable, and there it succeeds. It has a little romance, some nostalgia, and plenty of wish fulfillment to round out the corners.
Drew Barrymore surprisingly does quite well in the role of a hopeless geek, and David Arquette is appropriately humorous as her brother. Both are able to carry the film through its sluggish spots. The film sets up a romantic triangle (between Barrymore, Jordan and Vartan), but then fails to follow through…likely because one of the arms is much stronger than the other.
The biggest letdown of the movie is the supporting cast at the Chicago Sun-Times (including Molly Shannon, Garry Marshall and John C. Reilly). Most of their jokes just don’t pay off. Luckily, when Josie gets back to high school, the cast there shines. Leelee Sobieski, in particular, does an outstanding job as the nerd determined to carve her own path.
Never Been Kissed is never that deep, meaningful or even very believable. However, as light entertainment it certainly makes the grade.