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TEETH, 2007
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  MOVIE POSTERTEETH, 2007
Movie Reviews

Director: Mitchell Lichtenstein

Stars: Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Josh Pais

Review by Jeremiah Benjamin

SYNOPSIS:

Still a stranger to her own body, a high school student discovers she has a physical advantage when she becomes the object of male violence.

REVIEW:

My friends all think I'm out of my mind when I list Teeth as one of my favorite movies of all time, and I quite agree with them. This modern parable stars Jessica Weixler as Dawn, a model student/goodie-two-shoes teenage girl in a conservative small town in which sexual repression is taken to satiric extremes (manifested in a jaw-dropping scene of a high-school health class). Early on in the movie Dawn is presented as the figurehead of her local Christian youth group's giving speeches encouraging kids to wait for marriage before sex.

The twist? As a genetic consequence of growing up near a nuclear power plant (and a few shots showing the cooling towers in the background of their the family's backyard in a childhood flashback is literally the full extent of explanation given for this premise), she has carnivorous genitals that make sex with her an injurious prospect for any male suitor who dares to pursue her. Although the movie avoids any detailed sci-fi explanation of Dawn's condition, staying within the genre of female-revenge/feminist-satire paying homage to B horror films, it does give her...anatomical abnormality...reference to an ancient Greek myth of a monster of which she is the modern version. The introduction of the Greek myth "Vagina Dentata" adds a deeper subtext to the movie; the idea that Dawn embodies a universal fear transcending time and cultural/geographic boundaries; men's fear of the great mystery that is a woman's sexual organs.

As a parable, as much as this movie is simultaneously a poignant statement about sexuality, religion and gender politics in contemporary American culture told through one woman's catastrophic journey while also a horror farce preying upon male viewers' gag reflex, it functions as a very simple cautionary tale: men, stop being douchebags or you'll get your penis bitten off. I think it's about time a movie made that statement in a clear, no-nonsense way.

Beyond the gore, the humor, the teenage coming-of-age moments and the delicious revenge premise that are this movie's selling points, Jessica Weixler's performance is what places Teeth on my list of all-time favorite movies. She was so committed and relatable in her portrayal of a high-school virgin dealing with trauma inflicted by ill intentioned men -- and, on top of all that, processing the bodily discovery that she herself is a monster -- it baffles me that Teeth did not win any Oscars.

ACTORMitchell Lichtenstein
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORJess Weixler
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORJohn Hensley
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORJosh Pais
Best of the ARTIST

ACTORHale Appleman
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORLenny von Dohlen
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORAshley Springer
Best of the ARTIST

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TEETH, 2007