Making the Grades
When Kelly Morse (Chris Klein), an egotistical rich senior from a private academy, test drives the new Mercedes his father bought him for graduation, the joyride lands him in the local diner -- literally. It began as a stop for a milkshake and a few flirtatious lines between Kelly and the waitress Samantha Cavanaugh (Leelee Sobieski). But Samantha's boyfriend Jasper (Josh Hartnett) objects, so the boys take their differences out to the parking lot and into an explosive car chase. In the end, all that remains of the Cavanaugh's diner is a heap of ashes.
Although Kelly's father offers to pay all the expenses in exchange for his son's release, the judge has a different plan. Both Kelley and Jasper are sentenced to rebuilding what they demolished, as part of Jasper's father's construction crew. Because there is no hotel in town, Jasper's parents offer to have Kelly stay in a small room above their garage. These arrangements are too close for comfort for the two rivals, especially when Samantha decides to takes a keen interest in Kelly.
The 13-year-olds surrounding me in the theater were as intrigued with Kelly as Samantha was. Upon removing his shirt, their tittering turned into a hormone charged sigh. Later these same audience members groaned in disgust when Kelly began kissing Samantha's feet, and then squealed with delight as he began a sensuous geography lesson kissing his way from the Florida Keys (her toes) to Massachusetts (her lips). A fade to black suggests they went back to take a closer look at some points of interest.
Obviously, young teen females are the targeted demographic of this cliched story. My concern is the melodramatic ending which sends the strong message that sex is love, and that having a sexual experience is the ultimate fulfillment of one's life. In addition, the more I learned about Kelly's troubled family and observed his self-centered attitudes, the more convinced I was that had the writers not eliminated all possible consequences for this young couple's actions, this girl may have faced a story more aptly titled "Hell on Earth".
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Here On Earth.
If your teens see this movie, have them predict what might have happened if the movie had a different ending. Can stories like this encourage teens to ignore real life consequences when experimenting with relationships?