The Jerk Theory (2009)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Even if you do not read a synopsis, some movies seem to suggest that they will be crude without further study. This happens either by way of their title or the impression it leaves via its cover art. This was one of those movies. I figured having the word “jerk” in its title didn’t bode well but with exception to a handful of slip-ups, The Jerk Theory has something good to communicate.

He has been dumped for the last time. Adam (Josh Henderson) is tired of being Mr. Nice Guy and then being left behind in the dust when he plays nothing but the gentleman. After his current girlfriend dumps him for the more popular guy, Adam comes to the only logical conclusion: Girls must prefer jerks best… right? It’s his working theory. At the same time, Molly (Jenna Dewan), a pretty girl at his catholic school is calling it quits with the same guy who stole Adam’s girl those many months prior and before the day is out, the entire student body knows about it. Molly is a good student and she catches Adam’s eye but there is one snag: She is done dating jerks!

This is one of the rare few movies that I went into knowing nada about. I saw its cute cover art on Amazon advertised in one of those scrolling “bars” that recommends titles similar to what you are browsing for and then saw it starred the lovely Jenna Dewan. Some may remember her face from Step Up but most of you probably know her as being linked to movie star Channing Tatum, whom she is married and, her co-star from Step Up. (Ironically Josh play the guy who didn't get the girl in that same film.) Because of the casting I feel like this one would have worked better had the characters been in their early college years but yet with all the drama and petty kvetching, I do get why writer’s wanted the story set in the world of teenagers - it might have come across even more silly had it not been. The actors were much too old for playing these parts but they did a fine job with all they had to work with – taking themselves back into a world they were, in reality far removed from. Josh and Jenna are both attractive and give their characters some sparkle but they brought nothing that hasn’t been done before.
Discovering that my local video store had this available caused me to rent it on a whim. Though it plays copy-cat with multiple of its topics, a good potion of this film is brimming with teen angst burying anything that could be taken more seriously. There are countless frames that turn into slow motion moments including the always important “meeting-of-the-eyes” between its leads as well as the typical, comic relief in Adam’s totally geeky best friend, and still… the movie surprises in a few areas.  Flawed as it is, I give this one kudos for preaching an abstinence message. Something that does have to earn this movie some brownie points considering it is absent from Hollywood. Molly never gives Adam the easy out as she, in a way rehabilitates him and again reminds him what it means to be a gentleman – how a lady should be treated. She refuses to let their relationship become intimate and even early on their kisses are brief and few but where this is distorted is in the reasoning. Molly isn’t saying “no” because she believes it to be wrong but rather because she knows that once it happens the interest Adam has in her will wane – his head is too easily turned. Right as she may be, her thinking is still imperfect.

Through all the silly shenanigans and amateur camera work, this isn’t a bad movie. It has its moments and the fact that it stands apart in its pure relationship (though the promise wasn't one that would last past the credits!) between Molly and Adam makes it a better pick. When it comes to innovative story-telling or unique characters, The Jerk Theory does not offer any new insight into the American teenager or their complicated relationships.

(Parental review; Rated PG13 there is a handful of insinuations and crude remarks about sexuality and who is still a virgin. One guy suggests that he has the number of a virgin student whose number turns out to be a nun. Someone is taunted for not having “closed the deal” with his new girlfriend – once he and a girl sit in the back of his car making out before it goes no further. Immodest dress is seen on the girls and a handful of scenes show Adam not treating a girl with respect. A running joke with Adam’s buddies wonders about a person being male or female.)


  1. AnonymousJuly 19, 2012

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  2. This one was better than I thought, Juliet but naturally, it was still a bit... silly. :-)

    Thanks! I have so much fun creating these headers - in fact, I think a new one will be up before the day is out.

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