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Down to You

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 1 2000 12:29 p.m. MST

DOWN TO YOU — ** — Freddie Prinze Jr., Julia Stiles, Henry Winkler, Zak Orth, Shawn Hatosy, Selma Blair, Lucy Arnaz, Rosario Dawson; rated PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, sex, nude artwork, drug use); Carmike 12, Creekside Center and Ritz 15 Theaters; Cinemark Jordan Landing Theaters; Gateway 8 Cinemas; MegaPlex 17 at Jordan Common; Loews Cineplex Midvalley Cinemas; Reel Theatres.

About the only way to stop the cinematic juggernaut known as the teen romantic comedy is for the target audience to come to its senses and stop supporting the darn things.

There are signs that it's starting to happen — last summer's "Drive Me Crazy" tanked at the box office, and probably the best of the whole genre, "10 Things I Hate About You," didn't do much better.

One thing the latter did do, however, was introduce the moviegoing public to Julia Stiles, a star in the making. Her presence is reason enough to have hope for the latest teen romance, "Down to You."

Unfortunately, the movie dashes any such hopes. Among the bigger mistakes is first-time filmmaker Kris Isacsson pairing Stiles with walking mannequin Freddie Prinze Jr., with whom she has zero chemistry. And that's basically for the entire movie as they play love-struck college students who try to stay together despite the hurdles thrown in their way.

Those hurdles include Al's jerky friends — such as an aspiring porn star (Zak Orth) and an even more sex-obsessed buddy (Shawn Hatosy). If that's not bad enough, Al's father (Henry Winkler), a celebrity chef, unintentionally humiliates his son's girlfriend on TV.

Both twentysomethings are understandably freaked out, and as their college careers begin to wind down, so does the relationship.

One of the problems is that the toothless screenplay (also by Isacsson) just isn't that funny. And as written by him, the characters are little more than shallow caricatures. And for all the lack of chemistry, Stiles does make an effort and manages to give the film what little life it has. Prinze, however, appears to be sleepwalking through his role — and with a dopey grin on his face, no less.

"Down to You" is rated PG-13 for scattered profanities, crude sexual humor and sexual discussions, simulated sex (overheard), glimpses of nude artwork and brief drug use (marijuana).

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