Cindy Mancini (Amanda Peterson) speaks from experience. She worked so hard at being popular that she ended up “borrowing” her mother’s suede outfit without permission to look cool at a party. Her party ended when a friend spilled wine on it, ruining the dress. She had to secretly replace the thousand-dollar garment before her mother found it missing.
In steps Ronald Miller (Patrick Dempsey), who has saved up more than enough to cover the expense. Provided, of course, that Cindy agrees to date him for one month. Ronald has concocted a brilliant plan to transform himself from “totally geek to totally chic”. By dating ultra-popular Cindy, he intends to become popular by association.
Cindy refuses to believe that anyone would be so easily deceived. But she is proven wrong. With little effort, Ronald and Cindy convince all of her friends that Ronald is no geek, but one of the coolest kids ever. Even when he does something socially awkward, his new friends assume that it must be cool.
Unfortunately, Ronald didn’t heed Cindy’s warnings about the cost of being super-popular. He dives headfirst into a world of make-believe, in which he must pretend to be a fantastic dancer, though he doesn’t know a single move, as well as an amazing lover, though he’s never dated. He is no longer himself, because he’s too busy keeping up with his own false image. He forgets who he is, and why he wanted to become popular in the first place: to make friends with people like Cindy. As Ronald sinks deeper into his deception, he loses connection with her, the only friend with whom he can be honest.
It’s flattering to be liked by a lot of people. There have been times in my life when I was surrounded by friends who thought the world of me. I’ve had other times where I was surrounded by people who wanted nothing to do with me. But in each situation, I’ve had close friends that I could talk to and be myself with. So it didn’t matter so much what the world at large thought of me.
Ronald’s nerdy friend, Kenneth (Courtney Gains), decides to follow his example, and tries to make friends with a popular girl, rather than confine himself to the same social circle he’s always known. Meanwhile, Cindy spends a quiet evening at home with her mother (Sharon Farrell), whom she could never talk to before without rolling her eyes. Ultimately, everyone learns to break down the lines of social class that separate “popular” kids from “unpopular” ones. They learn that, underneath, people are all just people, trying to make friends.
It’s good to branch out and make new friends. Especially among people who are different from you, who aren’t part of your usual social circle. But you don’t need to present a false image of yourself to be liked. Accept yourself, and others, for who they really are.
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Thursday, September 4th, 2008