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When journalism professor Goodwin (Eric Bogosian) asks, “What’s the difference between news and gossip,” three university students and roommates, Derrick (James Marsden), Jones (Lena Headey), and Travis (Norman Reedus), experiment with the possibilities. At first it gets them a few free drinks in a bar, but when Derrick oversees the openly chaste Naomi (Kate Hudson) drunk and pre-coitus with Beau (Joshua Jackson), he spots a perfect opportunity to take his experiment further. He brings his roommates in on the plot; and soon the entire campus knows that the normally chaste Naomi had sex with Beau. Yet when Naomi has Beau arrested for rape, Derrick, Jones, and Travis become entangled in their own web of lies, forcing deadly secrets to re-surface.

"Did you hear the rumour about the film about how deadly gossip can be? Apparently it sets up all sorts of interesting ideas and goes nowhere with them. Then again, it seems to be aimed squarely at the teen market so it didn't try and get too intellectual.

Slickly made but with nothing much to say after the first 15 minutes, Gossip is bubblegum entertainment for those with a large willingness to suspend disbelief. How else are we supposed to accept the chic designer warehouse pad occupied by a trio of college kids who decide to start a rumour as part of their media studies course. Derrick (James Marsden), Travis (Norman Reedus) and Jones (Lena Headey) start their term project by hatching a rumour about rich girl Naomi Preston (Kate Hudson) who's apparently the only female student on campus who doesn't "put out". When tongues start wagging about what Beau (Joshua Jackson) did to her while she was passed out at a party, things turn nasty and the innocent Beau finds himself on rape charges.

The remainder of the film is occupied by the moral dilemma of rumour monger Jones, who discovers some not so savoury details about handsome Derrick's past. The treatment here is as superficial as the tabloid media these kids are studying; every time it looks like real tension might develop the trash-peddling trio instead reach for another glass of expensive liquor from Derrick's well stocked bar. The further it progresses the less likely we are to believe anything (maybe that's the whole point!!) and the denouement on a stormy night is likely to inspire groans rather than gasps.

Director Davis Guggenheim's experience on episodes of Party of Five is put to good use in the scenes set in Derrick's impossibly funky apartment but he's much less certain when it comes to creating mystery and suspense. That it plays ok for high-gloss trash is about the strongest compliment I could muster.

The extra material is fairly lame; Guggenheim and Marsden goof off most of the time about vital things like screen kissing technique and the deleted scenes fall into the "well, it's obvious why they're deleted" category. Just in case you were in doubt a title informs us these scenes were cut to reduce the length of the film. This one's okay if you're planning a trash double and have something really juicy like Wild Things to top the bill. On it's own, however, this isn't much chop".
Richard Kuipers

Published March 22, 2001

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CAST: James Marsden, Kate Hudson, Lena Headey, Norman Reedus, Marsha
Coughlan, Sharon Lawrence, Joshua Jackson, Eric Bogosian

DIRECTOR: Davis Guggenheim
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: March, 2001

Commentary Track with Director Davis Guggenheim and James Marsden
Deleted Scenes
Cast and Crew Filmographies
"Poe" Music Video for "our Lips Are Sealed"
Alternate Ending
"Travis' Gossip Interviews"
Language: English.
Subtitles: English (hard of hearing)

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