Even when I saw the movie as a teenager, I really loved the idea of Never Been Kissed. It wasn't only because in 1999 I hadn't been kissed either, but because I loved the idea of returning to high school as an adult who knows better. I decided to rewatch Never Been Kissed as an adult, and I still feel the same way. It's weird how so much of my life was determined by my teen years (college, for instance) and how little I really knew about myself until I was an adult.
For those who don't remember, Never Been Kissed tells the story of young copy-editor-turned-reporter Josie Geller (played by Drew Barrymore) who goes undercover at her old high school to find out what illicit things kids in 1999 are up to, like saying "rufus," dressing up as Disco Barbie, and — in the case of Josie — getting along a little too well with her teacher (played by a dreamy Michael Vartan). Her editors at the Chicago Sun Times are looking for a juicy story, but they wind up getting a very fun teen comedy with a dash of a love triangle. I was newspaper journalist for awhile and I always secretly hoped I'd get an assignment like that. But alas, no dice. And we can't forget about David Arquette, who appears in a subplot playing Josie's brother Rob, who goes back to high school to recapture his broken varsity baseball dreams. So just like Josie, I went back in time and watched Never Been Kissed as an adult.
1. Josie Keeps Correcting People's Grammar & It's So Annoying
I get that Josie is a copy editor and is paid to be the AP Stylebook, but she starts off the movie by being that obnoxious person who corrects everyone's grammar while they're talking. That joke gets old fast.
I'd also like to note that in this world, a copy editor doesn't have the same learned skills as a reporter, but as one, Josie gets her own office and assistant. When I worked in newspapers, I was a reporter with a mere cubicle and no assistant. The copy editors didn't have offices, either, and not all of them wanted to be reporters, but they did correct my grammar — usually using a red pen, though.
2. Josie's Never Been Truly Kissed — So Does That Mean She's A Virgin?
This is something that I've always wondered about this movie. When Josie confesses that she's never truly kissed a guy and felt all the feels, I'm not quite sure if it's assumed that she's a virgin or not. I mean, she could've also had a bunch of those lame kisses could've been during sex? Or not.
3. You Really Do Get Your First Assignment As Reporter That Fast
Josie gets her first reporting assignment in what seems like a flash — editor Gary Marshall tells her to enroll in high school and she's off! Back when I was a newspaper reporter, all of my editors used the same phrase to talk about my first day: "We want you to hit the ground running." And at each of those respective newspapers, I ended each first day with at least three assignments. That's journalism.
4. Sam The Teacher Knows That Josie Isn't 17 Not Too Long After They Meet
When Josie explains the meaning of pastoral in English class, Sam Coulson asks Josie, "Are you sure you're 17?" Well, it was a legit concern — her answer was clearly was college level or above. I like that he instinctually knows that she's, well, older.
5. Aldys Is The Coolest Nerd Ever
Most movie nerds are social awkward and weird, but Aldys is totally confident in her skin, which is unlike any other geeks in movies. She reaches out to Josie and is nice to her, no strings attached. She knows how to navigate her school without question. She's so smart that it's no wonder the popular clique is threatened by her (sadly, it's never explained why they hate her). I wish I was that comfortable and confident as a teenager.
6. Rob's Popularity Theory Is So Correct
I've actually quoted this one over the years, because it's so true. "All you need is the right person, one person to think you're cool and you're in," Rob tells Josie about being popular. "Everyone else will be too scared to question it." It also applies to trying to get into friendship circles and cliques.
7. Stoned Josie Is So Hyper
I remember seeing the Stoned Josie sequence back in 1999 and having absolutely no clue what was happening. Looking back on it now, she seems to be a really energetic stoned — maybe the brownie she ate was laced with sativa cannibis, which gives more of an upper high, not that I know anything about that...
8. The Ferris Wheel Flirting Is So Uncomfortable
While nursed a crush on Vartan for awhile after this movie, the scene where Josie and Sam talk about life and love starts bringing this teacher-student relationship into inappropriate territory. As an adult, I just want to shout to them that Josie is over 18 and not a student to just eliminate the ick factor already.
9. Aldys & Guy's Dance Is So Weird
I always wondered about it. They start off twirling around and then it gets really suggestive. Plus, Aldys is wearing a skin-tight body suit. And there's more twirling. Perhaps that was a thing in 1999?
10. The Dog Food Plan Was So Dumb
I never quite got the Aldys-Alpo connection, other than it was just a dumb nickname. I also always wondered about the dog food plan. So were the popular girls just going to pour dog food on Aldys? Throw it at her? As an adult, I've seen Carrie and I don't mean to compliment the bullies in that classic horror flick, but at least they put effort into their plan. The populars in Never Been Kissed just seem mean and dumb.
11. I Really Though Sam Wasn't Going To Come For Josie
I guess the real life, jaded adult version of the ending would be that Josie Grossie would never get the forgiveness of Sam and he'd move to New York with his stick-in-the-mud girlfriend he was never meant to be with. And the way it plays out on screen, you really do think for a little bit that Josie is continuing to be humiliated.
But I'm glad she got her man. Because while sometimes real life can suck, it can also be really awesome and surprise you, too.