Warner Bros. // 2008 // 87 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 3rd, 2008
The only thing harder than getting in is staying in.
Prepare for the ultimate terror. Hey parents -- If your daughters are anything like these girls, do us all a favor and take an arc welder to your reproductive organs immediately.
In the elite suburbs of Westchester, N.Y., there lives a girl named Massie Block (Elizabeth McLaughlin), the privileged daughter of a wealthy family and the big cheese at the prestigious Octavian Country Day all-girls school. She and her three fashion-conscious friends make up "the clique," the most exclusive gaggle of Prada-sporting divas in school. Enter Claire (Ellen Marlow), the daughter of a friend of the Block family, who's taken up residence in the guest house and is desperately trying to squeeze herself Massie's circle of friends.
Massie, of course, isn't having any of it and what ensues is a back-and-forth of righteous teenage girl vitriol, which as everyone knows, is hands-down the cruelest sort. Seriously, stick a Gitmo detainee in a room with any of these girls and watch the intel pour forth.
Wow. I can't remember the last time I was watching a movie and wished intense physical trauma on the characters. Date Movie, I guess? Maybe the Joker in The Dark Knight. I don't know. I dare anyone to spend 87 minutes with Massie and her pals and not yearn for a meteor storm to rain down crippling devastation on them and their stupid handbags.
Two things: 1) I know that's a harsh thing to say about seventh-graders but don't judge me until you've given this disc for a spin and 2) the very fact that this movie elicited such a reaction is probably the biggest compliment you could give it. Based on a series of books, The Clique is essentially a fish-out-of-water saga. The fish here is Claire, the simple wanna-be and Massie and her crew are sharks. Or longshoremen. Seriously, the grinder they feed Claire through is shocking in its maliciousness, so vicious that the awkwardness over the verbal barbs eventually morphed into resentment. And the fact that Claire kept coming back for more abuse, even though after the first time Massie so grievously insulted her to her face she should have taken out the brass knuckles and unleashed a legendary smackdown.
Then again, I am obviously not a seventh-grade girl, so maybe this is all par for the course. All I know is, as I watched Massie so efficiently emotionally traumatize Claire over and over I swore to myself if my daughters were to ever become that spoiled, selfish, and heartless, I would pack up the family, move to northern Idaho, and live off the land until they learned something about humility.
As the film progressed I kept telling myself "Don't let these girls get off easy, don't let them get off easy." They had been so utterly unsympathetic and cruel that nothing short of defeating the Antichrist in hand-to-hand combat would have redeemed their actions. There's a moment where Massie almost gets a taste of righteous payback, but it's fleeting and the horror continues anew. But -- they get off easy.
Which brings us to the ending and if only the film had side-stepped the predictable I might have felt a little better about the buck-and-a-half I spent with The Clique. I don't want to be chauvinistic, but simply put, this movie doesn't have balls. No one gets what they have so vigorously earned and the tried-and-true Valuable Life Lesson is pulled out just in time to save Massie from the debilitating social embarrassment she deserved. Weak.
The DVD is well-done: a clean and colorful (those outfits are uh-mazing!) 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 surround mix that pushes the annoying tweener pop rock soundtrack and extras including featurettes on the nationwide casting call to land the lead roles, on-the-set footage with the stars, a look at the fashion in the film, an introduction to the five finalists who met the book's author and auditioned for the movie, a gag reel and a spot on recording the theme song. There are some DVD-ROM extras, too.
I guess middle school girls will enjoy this, but if I were of that demographic I'd be thinking The Clique was a snuff film. The DVD's solid.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Gag Reel
* DVD-ROM Content