Who's in It:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lukas Haas, Emilie de Ravin, Meagan Good
The Basics: Teen loner Gordon-Levitt gets drawn into an underground crime ring at Hardboiled High School after his ex-girlfriend gets murdered. It's like Chinatown, but with study hall and notes passed through locker slots.
What's the Deal? This movie steals from other movies. But so what? It steals all the right stuff, and from old noir films, Blue Velvet and everything in between. But what's best about it is how it could have taken some obvious mainstream turns modern "teen movie" slang dialogue that would have been dated in five years, a cruddy alt-rock soundtrack or easier plot paths which would have turned it into a bigger movie that would have sucked. As it is, it went down a few idiosyncratic paths and made itself essential viewing, and now it's the coolest high-school movie since Heathers.
Bugsy Malone-isms: Expect to be lost sometimes. They talk fast and they talk like 1948 private eyes. The studio behind it is actually putting stand-up cardboard glossaries in some theater lobbies. But if you see one, just pass it by and check it out afterward (if you need to). It's more fun to drown in the lingo.
Meagan Good, You Are Good: The star of You Got Served steals scenes as the high-school drama-club princess who's constantly in different musical theater getups, sending submissive freshman boys to do her bidding on their hands and knees.
Fun Cast Trivia: Noah Fleiss, who plays the thuggish muscle behind Lukas Haas' teen drug kingpin, is the nephew of Heidi Fleiss.