After setting hearts aflutter as the bed-hopping gardener in TV's Desperate Housewives, Jesse Metcalfe reaps what he sows in teen comedy John Tucker Must Die. He flexes his pecs as the archetypal high school jock who breaks one too many hearts and invites the wrath of four scornful girls. While Brittany Snow makes a likeable lead as the social misfit who lures him into the honey trap, director Betty Thomas gets hopelessly mired in clichés and syrupy sentimentality.
You can begin ticking the boxes from scene one when Kate (Snow) reveals she's never in one town long enough to make friends because her mom (Jenny McCarthy) is a flake who can't make a relationship stick. Cue the popular girls (Sophia Bush, Ashanti, Arielle Kebbel) who've all been wronged by JT and recruit Kate for elaborate revenge. Inevitably she agrees to be the stooge that breaks his heart because it means she gets to hang out with the cool kids.
"MIRED IN CLICHÉS AND SENTIMENTALITY"
Although the title promises scathing humour à la Mean Girls, the gags are as soft and banal as two-ply toilet paper. It's even a touch chauvinistic, ie when the girls spike JT's drink with oestrogen and he randomly bursts into tears on the basketball court. Metcalfe has his moments, but it's mostly just his triceps that are stretched. The stage is left open for Snow who boasts plenty of cosy appeal, but isn't credible as the school's outcast. That only makes the soppy sermonising about 'being yourself' more difficult to swallow. John Tucker will surely die and be quickly forgotten.