Payback for a playboy

Published July 27, 2006

A campus playboy gets his comeuppance in John Tucker Must Die (PG-13), although not to the deadly extent of the title. That's just a bit of the hyperbole some teenagers attach to everyday problems and solutions. The guy may wish he were dead when three girls, each believing they are the love of his life, realize they aren't.

Betty Thomas' comedy stars Jesse Metcalfe as John, his first movie role after television appearances on Desperate Housewives, Smallville and the quirky soap opera Passions. Metcalfe has a camera-friendly face resembling a melange of Freddie Prinze Jr. and Carson Daly. That will be enough to make some of the movie's targeted audience feel their money was well-spent.

Tampa native Brittany Snow, late of TV's American Dreams, plays Kate, one of the vengeful girls getting played by John. Pop singer Ashanti follows her nice turn in Coach Carter as another schemer, and Sophia Bush (Stay Alive) completes the triangulated payback.

John Tucker Must Die wasn't screened in time for Weekend review.

- STEVE PERSALL, Times film critic