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All I Wanna Do

Originally titled Strike! but released on video with the considerably less political title All I Wanna Do, writer-director Sarah Kernochan's film opens with the intriguing credit "A Film By Everyone Who Worked On It." That's fitting, as the resulting film is clearly a labor of love for all involved, a jaunty early-'60s period comedy that's short on marketable T&A but long on good cheer and surprising political conviction. Gaby Hoffmann leads a strong ensemble cast as a defiant high-school student sent away to an elite, all-girl prep school after being caught with a diaphragm. Discouraged at first, Hoffmann soon falls in with some rebellious nonconformists, led by fresh-faced instigator Kirsten Dunst, who find ingenious ways of subverting the school's totalitarian rules and regulations. All I Wanna Do gets off to a lighthearted if undistinguished start, powered by little more than Kernochan's affection for her characters and the spirited performances of the youthful leads. After the school announces plans to merge with a male boarding school, however, All I Wanna Do gains focus and momentum, becoming less a nostalgic celebration of female bonding than a boldly feminist teen sex comedy that isn't above the occasional group-vomiting scene. It improves steadily as it goes along, right up through an enormously satisfying ending that combines rousing rhetoric about the price of gender inequity and the power of group solidarity—and throws in a rowdy snobs vs. slobs setpiece worthy of Animal House. All I Wanna Do's young leads give fine performances, but Lynn Redgrave, as the school's strict but loving headmistress, is its heart and soul, lending gravity and poignancy it would otherwise lack. Incidentally, Hayden Christensen, who is poised to reach Jake Lloyd/Mark Hamill levels of superstardom after starring in the next Star Wars movie, has a bit part as one of the girls' dates.


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