synopsis : valerie , a high school junior who doesn't look a day under 22 , writes bad poetry , complains about how much she hates school , fantasizes about a young guy on trial for raping and murdering six women , chooses him as a pen pal , and plays hooky to see him in court .
after a jailbreak , the killer puts on big sunglasses , wears a half-buttoned jacket , and uses his fatal charm to go after valerie .
comments : " alan smithee " directed fatal charm , which should have been more appropriately titled " fatal bore " or " fatal crap " .
if you find out that a film you're about to see is directed by " alan smithee , " then you should seriously , seriously , seriously consider watching something , anything , else .
" alan smithee " is a pseudonym which a number of directors have used when they produce something really bad .
frankly , i'd be embarrassed if i had directed this turkey , so i think i understand why the director might have picked the " alan smithee " moniker for this film .
where to begin with this painfully poor thriller ?
let's start with the acting .
it's pretty bad .
amanda peterson plays valerie and shows at least some talent ( the rest of the cast don't ) , even though her performance isn't exactly stellar material .
she's also miscast ; she seems way too old to still have a year of high school to complete .
her scenes with valerie's mother , played by mary frann , are a joke .
the two look as though they're a couple of coworkers going out to lunch together , rather than a daughter with her mother who just doesn't understand .
christopher atkins , a handsome enough actor who plays the killer , adam , looks like a clown in the second half of fatal charm .
trying to appear malicious and dangerous , he wears large sunglasses and a half-buttoned jacket .
if disney decided to do a zany comedy caper about the unabomber , atkins would probably be a perfect candidate for the lead , but he doesn't cut it here .
early on in the movie , a number of scenes occurs in a courtroom .
outside of the laughably poor performances given by the actors portraying lawyers , the people sitting in the benches provide the silliest effort at drama in the film .
they constantly shift and turn and arc their heads in mock interest in what has got to be one of the worst perfomances that a large group of people have given at one time ever .
fatal charm's storyline , such as it is , inspires more yawns than thrills .
the script belabors a red herring , early on , about a second suspect who may have committed the murders for which adam ( atkins ) is charged with .
this suspect , however , turns up strangled and drowned halfway through the film : an obvious plot fault .
even for the idiots who didn't consider the movie's title as valerie and a blond newsreporter commented how innocent and charming the defendant seemed , it becomes quite obvious that adam is dangerous when the other suspect washes up .
so , the audience must wait ( if they haven't already stopped watching ) as the necessary details fall into place and the killer goes after the heroine in the drawn-out finale .
the video box for this dud describes fatal charm as an " erotic thriller " .
a thriller it isn't , and neither is it particularly erotic .
i can't imagine , if someone were in the mood for something " erotic , " that he'd be happy after watching this fluff .
a few erotic moments occur in the film ; they take place in a van with little lighting and are filmed out of focus ( see , they're supposed to be valerie's fantasies -- how creative ) .
on a personal note , i was disturbed by the ludicrous english literature class shown in this film which valerie had to suffer through .
it's no wonder why she hated high school so much .
as an instructor of english myself , i have a hard time accepting the fact that in a course emphasizing great literature , a teacher would stoop to reading a student's bad poetry ( of course , it's valerie's ) about boyfriends out loud and then embarassing its author in front of class with questions about the poem's inspiration .
i guess the public school system is still setting dubious standards for its students .