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Teeth

May 24, 2010

Teeth

Teeth is a perfect blend of horror and dark, dark comedy that makes you cringe at times and laugh at others. With a great leading performance by Jess Weixler, the film comes together nearly perfectly.

The story starts out with Dawn O’Keefe’s mother on a date with her future husband and Dawn playing in a kiddie pool with her soon to be step brother, Brad.  Something happens and we jump forward to the present (sorry, this is going to be very odd description/summary of the story ).  In the present, Dawn has become and abstinence nut in high school, she leads the club at the local high school and the whole idea of sex is out of the question for her and she has a boy friend who is in the club with her as well.  Mean while, her step bother has become a degenerate, in his twenties, living at home, not really working and has a rotweiler.  The relationship between the two isn’t good as Dawn tries to be pure and Brad basically doesn’t care about anything.  One day Dawn and her boyfriend go off to a river for a swim.  It turns out that her boyfriend isn’t quite as into the abstinence thing as she is, and he tries to have sex with her.  Things go wrong, and he ends up drowning.  Dawn doesn’t know what to do and she goes to another friend, a guy, for advice.  He tells her that he is her hero and they end up having sex but it turns out that he was just doing it for a bet, so the following morning when they have a “quickie” things go wrong.  Also during this time, Dawn’s mother ends up in the hospital, in a massive series of unfortunate events worsened by the step brother, and she ends up passing away.  Dawn decides to take revenge on her step brother before she leaves town.  That is probably the most disjointed and confusing summary I’ve ever written, but I was trying to keep it cleanish.

The acting of Jess Weixler is simply brilliant in this role.  It is extremely out there, and I don’t think that many actresses would have been able to pull it off as well as she does.  John Hensley, from Nip/Tuck, plays her step brother Brad.  And while his performance isn’t as good, he does come off as a scumbag and while you feel sorry for most of the other characters who have unfortunate events happen to them (at least a little bit sorry, not all that much, all the guys are made out to be some level of deviant), at no point in time do you feel sorry for Brad.  The rest of the roles are much smaller, her boyfriend, her friend, even her mother, only show up for bits of time in the film.  Their performances aren’t as good as Weixler’s, again, but their roles are smaller, so it isn’t all that important if they aren’t as strong.

Mitchell Lichtenstein is the writer and director of this film, and while he has primarily done acting in his career, his second attempt as a writer/director is very good.  This is definitely a film that has a strong straight forward message about female empowerment wrapped up in a an extremely odd way of telling it, much like Ginger Snaps being about puberty.  He does a good job getting solid performances all around, and visually creating proper surroundings for each character.  And while there are a few hilariously cheesy lines, it feels like they were intentionally put in, not that they were unintentionally poorly written bits of dialog.

This film just works on every level, the writing, direction, and acting all just come together perfectly.  And while films at times can be too preachy and heavy handed in getting across what they are trying to say, Crash, The Happening, and The Day After Tomorrow come to mind, it has that humor element that makes it every interesting to watch.  I can’t quite use the term enjoyable, as I don’t think any guy can completely enjoy watching it, but I’d still highly recommend it.

Entertainment Grade: A

Critical Grade: B+

Overall Grade: A-

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