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On the Line (PG)
Miramax Films

For the millions of adolescent girls that On the Line targets as its sole audience, with 'N Sync band members Lance Bass and Joey Fatone making their first stabs at acting, this drippy teen romance will keep their squeaky voices chattering while the movie plays. But for any other group of moviegoers, On the Line will be an exercise in witnessing the baby steps of screenwriters, actors, and an unsophisticated director trying to accommodate commercial demands.

Insecure ad writer Kevin (Bass) meets Abbey (Emmanuelle Chriqui),the girl of his dreams, on a subway train but fails to get her name or phone number and spends the rest of the movie tracking her down to realize their mutual attraction. For his first shot at a leading role, Lance Bass does a passable job of pretending to be an actor. He doesn't express too much, he doesn't lean on the furniture or stick his hands in his pockets, and he even manages to articulate his lines clearly. But the teenybopper pop star's wide-eyed enthusiasm registers about as much entertainment value as a duck on a June bug. Cuteness is what's at stake here and the array of stylish skinny ties and well-matching shirts that Kevin wears to the ad agency where he works are intended to misdirect the viewer from the dull personality emanating above.

Bass gets support from the 'is-he-really-that-ugly?' contribution of fellow 'N Sync singer Joey Fatone. Fatone plays a burgeoning Meatloaf-style singer in a hard rock band with a penchant for awful clothes and a proclivity for flatulence. The boys share a frat house--styled apartment with two other party dudes who assist Kevin by being moronic in their own particular ways.

Even the movie's attempt at adding soulful credibility fails when R&B sensation Al Green performs songs in a club sequence that is so poorly dubbed that it feels like you're watching a nightclub scene from a bad kung fu movie.

Strangely, the object of Kevin's desire is left out of most of the movie. We meet Abbey long enough to confirm that she is cute (immature), is on the outs with her current pretentious boyfriend, and that she -- like Kevin -- can list every American president.

On the Line contains the usual idealistic romantic rhetoric about some vague definition of passion and going the extra distance to make a relationship happen.

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