'Freshman Orientation' gets a failing grade

Freshman Orientation (R)

1 star out of 4

For those who thought Adam Sandler's "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" was a laugh riot, "Freshman Orientation" should be placed at the top of your must-see list. Lacking any bankable talent, the 2004 movie has almost the same premise as Sandler's movie, but with a college campus setting.

As part of a fraternity initiation, Clay (Sam Huntington, "Superman Returns") must pretend he's gay. As part of her sorority initiation, Amanda (Kaitlin Doubleday) must date a known homosexual, lead him on for a while and then dump him. Can you hear the crickets chirping in the background as you read this?

Lacking a single original thought and containing not one laugh, the movie does manage to avoid the typical raunchiness found in comedies of this ilk. But as it is a film about homophobia and hetero sex, it does rightfully earn its R rating.

For the most part, the supporting cast is also written in more realistic terms. The geeks aren't all ugly losers, the popular guys and girls aren't all beautiful and the dorm rooms aren't the size of airplane hangars. Writer/director Ryan Shiraki does have some degree of understanding of the real world.

As the predictable romantic plot plays out, peripheral subplots including campus hazing, gay rights issues and extreme political correctness are given minor lip service but leave no lasting impression.

It's difficult to see who might have any interest in paying good money to see this film. Three years late, no stars and a been-there, done-that story doesn't offer much in the way of an incentive. It's not offensive or enlightening enough to even warrant a comment from the gay community.

If the studio was smart, it would have kept the movie's original title - "Home of Phobia." It's much more clever and would have at least generated some scandal and water-cooler buzz. Then again, the new generic title is a perfect match for the movie's actual content. (Regent Releasing)

Opens exclusively at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive, Atlanta. Call 678-495-1424 or visit www.landmarktheatres.com.