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while i am not fond of any writer's use of cheap , easy puns , i am not completely above using them myself when the situation merits it ( witness my review of _pecker_ from a couple of issues ago ) .
so here goes : the juvenile , college-set black comedy _dead_man_on_campus_ is dead on arrival .
strait-laced med student josh ( tom everett scott , who manages to remain somewhat likable throughout ) 's blemish-free academic record breaks out into fs , thanks to the influence of his ever-partying roommate , cooper ( mark-paul gosselaar ) , who introduces josh to the sex- and booze-filled nights that come with university life .
with the threat of losing an academic scholarship ( josh ) and a life cleaning toilets for his dad looming ( cooper ) , what are two good-hearted slackers to do ?
easy--look for a loophole , which they find in the form of an unbelievable rule in the school charter that states that if a student's ( or students' ) roommate commits suicide , the surviving student ( s ) shall receive straight as .
so instead of studying , josh and cooper attempt to seek out the most depressed student out there , move him into their dorm room , and drive him to suicide before the semester ends .
director alan cohn and screenwriters michael traeger and mike white ( working from a story by anthony abrams and adam larson broder ) take their sweet time to build the head of steam that comes with josh and cooper's diabolical plot .
until then , the usual boring cliches of college life ( booze , sex , more booze ) fill the time , which is made to feel longer by _saved_by_the_bell_ alumnus gosselaar's sitcom-bred mugging .
that said , once cohn and company do build some comic momentum , they mishandle it .
the introduction of the manic , psychotic cliff ( lochlyn munro ) , a potential roommate for josh and cooper , brings some demented life to the uninspired proceedings before being hastily written out in favor of two less interesting candidates : paranoid nerd buckley ( randy pearlstein ) and british death rocker matt ( corey page ) .
one wishes that cliff would reappear , but , as they say , be careful what you wish for .
not surprisingly , he does resurface , and it then becomes clear that this is a character that is best taken in a small dose ; almost immediately , his extended boorish and sociopathic antics loses its novelty .
the same can be said about all of _dead_man_on_campus_ .
whatever morbid appeal the far-fetched premise has quickly evaporates , and the self-absorbed characters , especially cooper , pretty much grate from the get-go .
_dead_man_ doesn't grow tiresome ; it already _is_ once the clever opening titles are through .
as it slogs along to a cheesy , happy-for-all-parties conclusion , _dead_man_ lives up to its title and then some--not only does the movie grow even more tired and die , it still insists on going on . . .
like a zombie .