Loser

Intriguing but badly executed ideas are the basis of this not entirely unappealing romantic comedy, in which a scholarship to a New York City college presents daunting social challenges for a young man who's made fun of by nearly everyone he meets. Paul (Jason Biggs) is treated kindly only by Dora (Mena Suvari); the impediment to their romance—a character crafted largely to enable writer-director Amy Heckerling to make points about gender roles—is an arrogant professor (Greg Kinnear) who fears commitment more than what could happen to his career if anyone finds out he's dating a student. His blunt yet double-edged dialogue and behavior actually oversimplify Dora's attachment to him: whether she'll fall for Paul hinges on whether she'll decide that being enthralled with a man who treats her badly isn't love. Her perspective is far more important to the story than Paul's, but it's buried in poorly motivated, repetitive shtick about Paul's humiliation at the hands of his classmates. 97 min.

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