Making the Grades
Paul Tannek (Jason Biggs) fits Hollywood's definition of a loser perfectly. With an ugly hat and an honest determination to excel in school, he recognizes the difficulties he is likely to encounter after leaving his small town to accept a scholarship at a New York college. Assigned to a dorm with three roommates who find delight in hosting rowdy parties, Paul is shunned when he refuses to participate. Unable to handle Paul's "difficult" habits any longer, the trio convinces the housing supervisor to have him reassigned.
Boarding at a veterinary hospital where he is responsible for caring for the animals, he picks up a new stray -- Dora (Mena Suvari), a girl from his literature class. Blaming the long commute home to her concerned mother as to why she lives on the street, we suspect Dora prefers to stay close to school so she can continue a secret relationship with her literature professor. Facilitating his desires for sex, she is naive enough to believe the professor actually loves her. Recognizing Dora's potential for heartbreak, Paul tempers his own feelings of love toward her, and offers friendship and support.
Paul's character is certainly the one bright light in a movie full of negative portrayals. Even though Dora sees her intentions as honorable, she justifies working in a strip bar and stealing food to support her education. Paul's former roommates manage to convince Paul to let them use the veterinary hospital for a charitable fund raising party. But their real motive is to slip drugs into girls' drinks with the hopes of making them sexually submissive. When these same guys get word of Dora's relationship with her professor, they blackmail him into making them A+ students.
Primarily another comedy about college life that tries to generate humor through sexual innuendo, searching for the one positive statement about resisting peer pressure is like digging for gold nuggets in a garbage dump. An attempt in the credits to show consequences for these actions is appreciated, but few audience members in my screening stayed to read them and discover who the real losers were.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Loser.
What does a loser look like? How have we been conditioned to judge people as winners or losers by their outward appearance? Does popular media and the fashion industry play a role in generating these stereotypes? Why?