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Whatever It Takes (2000)

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Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director David Raynr and actors Marla Sokoloff and Shane West Rating:9.0/10 (2 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by frankasu03 on January 29th, 2017:Find all reviews by frankasu03
Perhaps influenced by the huge success of "Clueless" (1995), the late '90s and early 2000's involved a barrage of teen flicks loosely inspired by classic works of literature. "Whatever it Takes" (2000) was obviously meant as a modern teen tale based on the classic Cyrano De Bergerac. Although this aspires to join the ranks of "She's All That," "10 things I hate about you," or even "Can't Hardly Wait," 'Whatever' seems caught between outright raunchy teensploitation, like the previous years' "American Pie," and a more sensitive romantic comedy, a la "Sixteen Candles." The track here, a group effort from Director David Raynr and co-leads Marla Sokoloff & Shane West, does provide ample evidence as to how one arrives at such a "mixed bag." Originally titled "I'll Be You," (talk about "The Replacements") "Whatever" was a prime example of "death by a thousand cuts." Raynr indicates that, despite $12-14 Million dollars in budget and well over 40 days of shooting time, an embattled production commenced. Much of the blame is laid upon the script, which initially painted the Ashley character played by Jodi Lyn O'keefe as, ironically, a disgusting slob. Scenes involving vomiting, hygiene, and improper eating habits were greatly edited or cut-out altogether. The reason being "test audiences" routinely found the leading man's infatuation with Ashley, especially in contrast to his beautiful next door neighbor and best friend, to be unbelievable. The Director returns to the testing process again and again during the track, to emphasize the many directions the whole enterprise can send a fledgling production. The fact that the film tested "huge" with younger teenagers meant more of the suggestive elements, such as sexual education and offensive language, were eliminated. Hamstrung by these conditions, the physical production also proved difficult. Much is made of the carnival scenes shot at the "Disney Ranch" up near Santa Clarita; night shoots that transpired over 4 days, with nearly two weeks separating the filming. The sort of schedule that plays havoc with one's orientation to the waking world. Even the studio-bound aspects of filming were troublesome to the Director. Filming in Culver City for the balcony scenes occurred on a set so small that camera movement was limited for Raynr to explore. As for the actors, Marla and Shane recall these difficulties with admirable charm and good will. More engaging, and perhaps the best anecdotes, refer to the many scenes shot at Beverly Hills High School. A School with a gymnasium forever captured in film lore as the setting in "It's A Wonderful Life." Other bits of trivia pour out liberally during the commentary. Nick Cannon was held out of the role played by Colin Hanks ("Cosmo") thanks to a Warner Brothers TV pilot, James Franco routinely channeled screen greats like James Dean and Marlon Brando by, respectively, crashing a vehicle and eating an egg during key dialogue scenes. References are made to other films of the era, such as "Drive Me Crazy," and "Titanic." There's even tale of a Japanese version featuring additional scenes with Japanese actress Mami Nakamura. Her character barely appears in this "US" version, yet apparently was such a "draw" in Japan that another form of "Whatever it Takes" features Noriko in greater prominence. Speaks to the days of "co-production" peculiarities, I suppose. All in all, a commentary that is very satisfying, and provides a fascinating insight into this era of the teen genre. Especially when the voices of studios, test marketers, and producers are heard. 8/10