Movie Maniac

Soapy teen drama ‘Cruel Intentions’ back in theaters for 20th anniversary

Ryan Phillippe and Selma Blair star in “Cruel Intentions.” The film is being re-released for one week only to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Ryan Phillippe and Selma Blair star in “Cruel Intentions.” The film is being re-released for one week only to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Columbia Pictures

1999 was a pretty darn good year for movies, with the likes of such iconic hits as “The Matrix,” “The Sixth Sense,” “The Iron Giant,” “Fight Club” — and “Cruel Intentions.”

Wait, what?

Yes, it’s kind of hard to believe that out of that list of movies, only one of them is getting a wide re-release for one week to celebrate its 20th anniversary, but “Cruel Intentions” it is (it’s showing starting Friday, March 22, through Thursday, March 28, at the east Warren Theatre).

The film is sort of a teen remake of “Dangerous Liaisons,” which was based on the book “Les liaisons dangereuses” by Christopher Hampton.

The story has bored, wealthy step-siblings Kathryn (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Sebastian (Ryan Phillippe) making a wager that he can deflower the virginal Annette (Reese Witherspoon). Meanwhile, Kathryn has been dumped by her boyfriend, Court (Charlie O’Connell), for the naive Cecile (Selma Blair) and vows to get even. It’s all a melodramatic mess and soapier than a Tide commercial.

The film generated mixed reviews upon its initial release, but eventually became a box office success, earning more than $75 million worldwide with a budget of about $10.5 million. according to IMDb. The film spawned two direct-to-video sequels that didn’t star Gellar, Phillippe or Witherspoon and an off-Broadway musical (yes, musical).

Here are some other trivia tidbits about “Cruel Intentions,” courtesy of the film’s IMDb page:

Other title — The film’s original title was “Cruel Inventions,” but test audiences thought that made it sound like a science fiction film, so goodbye, title.

Other actress — Columbia Pictures wanted Katie Holmes for Witherspoon’s part, but writer/director Roger Kumble told Cosmopolitan that they “needed someone with a little more strength of character.” Ouch!

Real-life love — Phillippe and Witherspoon were dating during filming of the movie. They got married three months after the film’s release and had two children together, but ended up divorcing in 2008.

It’s all in the hue — According to costume designer Denise Wingate, Witherspoon was deliberately clothed in light colors to contrast with the dark colors that Phillippe wore.

Easter egg — When Sebastian hands Kathryn a Seventeen magazine, Jennifer Love Hewitt is pictured on the cover. She starred with Gellar and Phillippe in the 1997 horror film “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”

That famous kiss — The kissing scene between Gellar and Blair ranked the film at No. 32 on Entertainment Weekly’s “50 Sexiest Movies Ever.” The scene also won an MTV Movie Award for best kiss.

Rod Pocowatchit is an award-winning independent filmmaker and SAG/AFTRA-eligible actor who has written and directed four feature-length films, all made in Kansas. He has been a journalist for 29 years and is also an internationally award-winning page designer.