Um… Wow… Uh… This movie… this movie… If you don’t know, here is the IMDB plot description: “A newspaper reporter enrolls in high school as part of research for a story.” Seems simple enough. Right? But then you return to the title. Never Been Kissed (1999). Sounds like a romantic comedy. It is. And it is very uncomfortable. This movie is about a woman pretending to be a high school student who then starts to fall in love with one of her teachers. It is so uncomfortable. Here are my problems, the main relationship is problematic, the main character is problematic, and there is a much more interesting movie hidden in side this one.
OK. OK. OK. So, Drew Barrymore is a reporter. She gets assigned a story and goes undercover at a high school. There should be no romantic plot involved. But there is and it isn’t even played off as being creepy. They end up together at the end. If you take a step back. Its fine. Its two people in their mid-twenties falling in love because of common interests. Nothing wrong with that. But, let’s add some more details from the movie. She is undercover as a teenager and he is her teacher. Immediately terrible. He falls in love with her while he not only is in another relationship but while he believes Barrymore to be seventeen and his student. Drew Barrymore falls in love with him while actively lying to him. Terrible. Awful. And we’re supposed to be happy when they get together at the end? No! Awful.
Also, Drew Barrymore’s character is toxic. As mentioned above, she toys with this man’s emotions and then expects him to forgive her immediately. Also, when her boss tells her to entrap him so that they can write a piece about a teacher being inappropriate with students, Barrymore considers it! Then, she puts all this pressure on him to forgive her by writing in her newspaper about their experience and then, in the article, tells him (an everyone else) where she will be waiting for him. Ensuring that there is a big crowd. Not allowing him one bit of privacy and making him look like the asshole if he doesn’t forgive her. TOXIC. She also goes to prom with kid. Knowing that she is an adult and he is a child. Terrible.
Lastly, a sub plot of the movie is Barrymore’s adult brother also goes back to school with her to get another shot at going pro in baseball. To me, that just seems like a funnier and more interesting movie. Whatever. Never Been Kissed is a fine movie on the surface. But if you scrutinize the plot for even a second after watching it, oh boy does it fall apart. Oh my god. I just…. So many people had to be OK with this movie’s plot for it to get made. That’s wild to me. But it did get made. Now its on Disney+. Do with that information what you will.