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Gossip (2000)


I have quickly found myself tiring of the peculiar tedium of the gritty twentysomething whodunit. While I’ll fess up to having liked Cruel Intentions, recent films like Body Shots and The Skulls have left a sour taste in my mouth.

Gossip does not get rid of that taste.

While it’s hard to pinpoint why Gossip is so uncompelling, the fault lies mainly in a script that wants to be a thriller but is structured like a thrills-free 80s romance/drama. The premise itself isn’t awful: Three cliquish college students (Norman Reedus, James Marsden, and Lena Headey) get their rocks off by making up rumors about their classmates. ‘Oops!’ when one of these gossipy snickerings gets out of hand, finding Beau (Joshua Jackson) arrested for the rape of his girlfriend Naomi (Kate Hudson) –a crime he didn’t commit! (Gasp!)

After being twist-free for 30 minutes, we’re thrown for a loop involving a past relationship between Derrick (Marsden) and Naomi, with Jones (Headey) playing amateur detective. None of this goes very far… in fact, the long stretches of confrontation among the principals (that make up the bulk of the film) start out as silly and end up as just boring. The acting is fine; it’s the script that stinks.

The lack of attention to detail in Gossip is astonishing, as well. Most annoying is: Why does Lena Headey speak with a thick French accent despite her character’s firm insistence that she’s a working-class girl from Plymouth? Where does Sharon Lawrence’s investigator disappear to halfway into the movie? And what’s up with Eric Bogosian???

The answer may lie in the credit ‘Executive Producer: Joel Schumacher,’ but Gossip simply feels like a rush job that never should have been made with the script in hand. Four stars for a decent idea; one for execution. And minus another star for a Web site that claims you need to download 20MB worth of files just to enter. Skip the site… and the movie.

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