Never Been Kissed

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.85:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1999 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 103:02 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (46:45)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Raja Gosnell
20th Century Fox
Fox Home Entertainment
Starring Drew Barrymore
David Arquette
Michael Vartan
Leelee Sobieski
Jeremy Jordan
Molly Shannon
Garry Marshall
John C. Reilly
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $39.95 Music David Newman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles English Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    I suppose that it is inevitable that we would get an endless succession of teenage high school films, in the true Hollywood tradition of mimicry, after one was reasonably successful. The depressing thing is that I really cannot pinpoint exactly which film that we have to blame for this succession. What I can pinpoint is that this is not an especially memorable contribution to the genre, but it is at least better than some efforts that shall remain nameless. And in case you really need to know, yes, it is indeed a Drew Barrymore vehicle, even down to the fact that she is executive producer on this effort. So, if you do not love Drew Barrymore, it may be prudent to avoid this film.

    The broad story here is that of Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore), a copy editor with the Chicago Sun-Times who in her own inimitable words has never been kissed, as in really kissed such that fireworks fly, lightning flashes, knees tremble and so on, in the knowledge that the kisser is the kissee's one true, absolutely perfect soul mate. Okay, that is not the story but that's where the story heads off to. Her immediate boss Gus (John C. Reilly) is loathe to let his prize copy editor loose as a journalist but has no choice when his boss Rigfort (Garry Marshall) comes up with the latest undercover report for the newspaper - and assigns it to Josie as her rookie effort. She has to go back to high school in order to find out the ins and outs of modern high school students. Trouble is that the first time around, Josie was Josie the Grossie, somewhat of the unpopular geek at school. Her return to high school starts out on the same footing. However, things look up a little when she discovers her English teacher, Sam Coulson (Michael Vartan). Unfortunately, the only student to befriend her is Aldys (Leelee Sobieski), the current high school geek. Naturally, her newspaper is not thrilled by her getting friendly with the wrong crowd at the school, especially when a rival newspaper scoops them on a story from her high school. So, Josie is forced to make good with the in crowd (as in the three bimbos), but needs help so turns to her ever popular brother Rob (David Arquette) for help. Josie is also wired for sound and vision so that Gus can determine what the real story will be. One thing leads to another and David enrols in school too, helps Josie become the most popular girl in school (and prom queen), whilst Josie all the while falls for the older guy in her teacher Sam. No need to go any further as you probably have guessed most of the story from here.

    A few things need to be cleared up right away. One: the story is pretty feeble and relatively predictable, especially as this is a Drew Barrymore vehicle. Granted, the ending is a little different in setting and execution, if not in ultimate result. Two: there is no way in hell that Drew Barrymore can carry the unpopular geek role. Whilst her personal history has been riddled with sex, drugs and alcohol by all accounts, her screen persona (from ET onwards) has in general been far too loveable to carry off the role of most unpopular girl in school. Drew Barrymore walking into any high school in the free world is liable to have an instant posse of lusting young males following her. Three, Leelee Sobieski similarly is not well suited to the unpopular geek role either. These three factors weigh a little heavily against the film in my view, but since it did reasonably well at the box office apparently, I obviously have no idea what I am talking about.

    Once you get past the glossy images though, the film does reveal a degree of lack of substance and in that regard goes down the same route as many of the other recent high school films. Whilst Drew Barrymore does her best with a role that she really cannot carry off too well, a significant problem when she is the focus of the film, it is the supporting cast that really prevents this totally falling off the rails. John C. Reilly is okay as the newspaper editor, but it is Molly Shannon as the nymphomaniac Anita who gains attention here. Garry Marshall is nicely cast in a brief role as the newspaper owner. I cannot say that I have heard of the director before and this is unlikely to be the sort of film that is going to allow much scope for any directorial brilliance to show - there is certainly none in evidence to be honest.

    As far as the genre is concerned, this a decent enough film but it is lacking that indefinable something to really make the film sparkle. Now don't get me wrong, for whilst I am not proclaiming the film to be a masterpiece, I am also not condemning the film. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, for all its faults. There are certainly better films around from the genre and it is to be hoped that one of my favourites in 10 Things I Hate About You will be released soon in Region 4. Until then, Never Been Kissed will keep the player warm quite nicely indeed.

Transfer Quality


    In a word? Brilliant. Although I have not seen that many Fox releases as of the current time, from those that I have seen and from what others have said, in general the impression is that they are producing a good quality transfer, and this will only enhance that impression.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    Flicking through the technical specifications for this film on the Internet Movie Database, I note that it is another of those anamorphically filmed efforts that I am so deeply impressed with. Why? Because they seem to produce beautifully sharp and vibrant video transfers. This is no different at all. This is a very sharp and wonderfully defined transfer that just oozes class. Indeed, at times it gets just a little too good and gets a little too detailed, but that is excusable for the general quality we get to see in the video. Overall detail is quite wonderful and you are hard pressed indeed to find fault in the level of shadow definition here. It is a gorgeously clear transfer that really does not hide anything at all. There is absolutely no problem at all with low level noise in the transfer.

    And, if the transfer itself is great looking, just take a look at the colours. Whilst there are plenty of bright colours here, they never get too bright or over-vibrant. The rendering of the colours is just beautiful, capturing a lovely naturalness in a bright vibrant way that actually is so not like the Chicago I know! Even in the relative mishmash of colours in the prom scenes, everything is handled superbly so that there is no colour bleed, no oversaturation and every colour shines. This is perhaps nowhere better demonstrated than in the sheer blue pant suit worn by Aldys - really impressive stuff indeed in my view (the colours, not the pant suit and the person wearing it), as this could have been saturation heaven if not handled properly.

   There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There were a few very, very minor instances of shimmer during the film (being very picky I would highlight 58:45 as the worst example and even that is barely noticeable). But that was it as far as film-to-video artefacts go, and this really is one of the more impressive efforts through my player in recent times. Film artefacts were pretty much a non-issue here, but that is how it should be in a film of such recent vintage. There were a few flecks of dirt here and there, but that was about it. This is as close to reference quality as I have seen in quite a while.

   This is an RSDL format disc with the layer change coming at 46:45. This is a very nicely handled change, as it comes during the black sequence after Josie knocks herself out by running into the main office door. Completely non-intrusive to the film in every respect.


  The video transfer is matched by a very good soundtrack too.

  As is quite common on Fox releases, there is only the one audio track on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 effort (and yes, it is definitely 5.1 this time). So unless I wanted to watch a silent version of the film (and believe me just watching Drew Barrymore and Leelee Sobieski without sound would not be a chore), I had little option but to indulge the English soundtrack.

  The dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.

  There was no hint of any audio sync problems in the transfer.

  The music score comes from David Newman and since I did not notice it too much, it must be (a) quite effective or (b) bloody awful. Since I am feeling generous, I think we will go with answer (a). It is by no means the most original piece of work I have ever heard, and it is overshadowed by the popular music included in the film, but it helps the "feel-good" tone of the film.

  About the only real problem with the soundtrack was just a little too much bass resonance during the contemporary music, which is a bit of a shame as it is about the only time the bass channel gets any use. As you know from my profile, I am bass-sensitive, so others may be completely unaffected by this admittedly quite minor problem. Apart from that we have a very fine soundtrack, nicely balanced with a lot of space in the sound. After a bunch of films that seemed to be very frontal in the sound picture, it is nice to return to a lovely open-sounding effort that envelops the listener rather than assaults them. There is no distortion present in the soundtrack, and everything really has a believable feel to it. Obviously the surround presence is not huge, as the film is very dialogue-driven in the main, but when they gets the opportunity, the surround channels provide some nice support. Really, this ends up being a very nice sounding effort.


    One area where Fox really do need to lift the game a lot is in the extras department and once again we are left significantly underwhelmed here.


    Rather perversely, it is actually 16x9 enhanced even though it is a full screen effort. A nice publicity shot of Drew Barrymore hardly makes it the most aptly themed menu ever, but it serves its limited function well enough.

Theatrical Trailer (2:01)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Nothing really brilliant, and nothing really bad either: it just ends up being a fairly typical two minute trailer. Quite why the film and the menu are 16x9 enhanced, and the trailer is not is a bit of a mystery.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 release misses out on:     The Region 1 release misses out on:     Another Region 4 winner here folks, no question.


    Well, Never Been Kissed is a film that I quite enjoyed, even though I have problems with the fairly derivative story and the odd castings. From a technical point of view this is a damn fine DVD, and is pretty much of reference quality as far as video goes, whilst the audio is not that far behind either. The big problem is whether it is worth the RRP of $39.95 - considering that the extras are extremely limited. Certainly get this out for a rent - you will not be disappointed. Whether you feel the need to indulge in a purchase will depend on how you feel about Drew Barrymore and whether the disc represents value for money to you.

    A fine video transfer that is pretty damn near perfect.

    A very good audio transfer.

    An unacceptable extras package at the asking price.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
12th May 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL