The Rules of Attraction

Release Date: October 11, 2002
Pushed back from September 27, 2002

Dawson's cranium looks larger than ever.

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The Rules of Attraction must have been one of the most unusual successful movie pitches in recent memory. "Have you seen that movie American Pyscho? OK, imagine if that guy had a kid brother. Now imagine if this sibling were played by Dawson, that pretty boy on the WB." Their casting-against-type back-up plan must have been Ray Romano Kills Everyone.

This film is based upon the Bret Easton Ellis book of the same name. It is centered upon three characters, including Sean Bateman, the younger brother of American Psycho's Patrick Bateman (but no confirmed relation to Justine or Jason Bateman). Sean is every bit as nihilistic as his older brother, but the particulars of his story are much more sexual and drug-related in nature. He attends a fictional New England university where he deals drugs to make some spare cash. More importantly, he is sexually ambiguous, and finds himself the object of desire of the bisexual Paul, and later Paul's ex-girlfriend, Lauren. The book itself is set in the Reagan ‘80s and the sexual escapades are generally free and fast along with excessive drug and alcohol usage and all three characters essentially jump from one bed to the next with seemingly few reservations, though they do experience occasional twinges of regret and doubt.

If the description of The Rules of Attraction sounds a lot like The Seamy Underbelly of Beverly Hills 90210, that's probably the intended effect, at least on the studio's part. Oversexed teen drama worked wonders for the box office of Cruel Intentions, an otherwise mediocre film that ended up with roughly $40 million in box office receipts (nearly quadruple its budget) due to a marketing campaign hinged around bisexual Buffy, Anal Queen of Lost Bets. Since teens somehow manage to find their way into R-rated films anyway, sexing up a story is the quickest way to guarantee box office. The hotter the stars, the more certain the money train.

It's no surprise, then, that the casting of this project is a who's-who of rising young stars in Hollywood. Obviously, James Van Der Beek has the key role of Sean Bateman, but the film also stars the winsome Shannyn Sossamon, most recently seen in 40 Days and 40 Nights, as Lauren. As I type this, she is the number-one actress with less than five films, according to rankings. Also onboard are two of the stars of Remember the Titans, Kip Pardue and Kate Bosworth. Bosworth's co-star on the short-lived WB show Young Americans, Ian Somerhalder, has been cast in the role of Paul, which many feel is really the focal character in the book. Seventh Heaven’s Jessica Biel will portray Lauren’s chain-smoking roommate who dresses only in black. This is without question one of the prettiest casts since Cruel Intentions, so expect the marketing campaign to be as tawdry as possible and the film to be quite successful. Of course, the possibility certainly exists that seeing sweet and innocent Dawson in such a devious role will alienate some of his fan base, but that certainly didn't hurt Sarah Michelle Gellar or Ryan Phillippe any.

For movie lovers, the other good news is that Rules of Attraction is helmed by Roger Avary, the writer and director of Killing Zoe. Known for his relationship with Quentin Tarantino - a man who Avary claims has taken several of Avary's ideas and used them as his own - the director showed his own creativity and expertise with a clever turn on the bank robbery genre in 1994. The Rules of Attraction will be his first directorial effort since then, so expectations are high from the cult fan base he nurtures at his Web site, Avary's Domain.

For people looking for cheap thrills, don't miss the "Dress to Get Screwed Party" scene.

And if you know of a college that has this particular festivity, please e-mail me with the details. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Rules of Attraction
Main Cast James Van Der Beek, Shannyn Sossamon, Ian Somerhalder, Jessica Biel
Supporting Cast Clifton Collins Jr., Faye Dunaway, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Kip Pardue, Clare Kramer, Eric Stoltz, Fred Savage, Swoosie Kurtz, Ron Jeremy
Director Roger Avary
Screenwriter Roger Avary, based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis
Distributor Lions Gate
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for The Rules of Attraction
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
Remember the Titans 9/29/0020.91 23.39 1865 11212.00 12064.9 115.60 129.32 5.53
Varsity Blues 1/15/9915.92 18.97 2121 7506.00 8569.8 52.89 63.02 3.02
Cruel Intentions 3/5/9913.02 15.51 2312 5631.00 6429.1 38.20 45.52 2.93
40 Days and 40 Nights 3/1/0212.23 12.71 2225 5496.00 5496.0 37.94 39.44 3.10
Summer Catch 8/24/017.02 7.49 2335 3006.00 3085.8 19.66 20.98 2.80
I'll Be Home For Christmas 11/13/983.90 5.01 1759 2217.00 2741.7 12.20 15.68 3.13



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