Sure, teen movies — like teenagers — tend to be self-absorbed, consumed by the rituals of dating and being popular, and a little annoying to anyone over the age of, say, 20. But this romantic comedy, based on How I Created My Perfect Prom Date, by popular young adult novelist Tod Strasser, is smarter and more engaging than it has to be. Nicole (Melissa Joan Hart, of TV's Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) is part of the in crowd, a bright, pretty, school spirit kind of girl who's desperate to go to the big dance with hunky basketball player Brad (Gabriel Carpenter). But Brad asks some cheerleader instead, so Nicole turns to next-door neighbor Chase (Adrian Grenier) for help. A sarcastic non-joiner who's just been dumped by his girlfriend (Ali Larter), Chase agrees to Nicole's plan, which calls for them to act as though they're dating until their sweethearts realize the error of their ways and come running back. To Nicole and Chase's mutual surprise, the scruffy boy next door cleans up into a bona fide hunk, who in turn realizes that under the scrupulously shallow, rah-rah surface, Nicole is still the same person who was his childhood soulmate. The romantic complications will come as no surprise, but Hart is the movie's not-so-secret weapon. An apparently effortless charmer, she's managed to resist being transformed into a buffed and styled to perfection Hollywood teen, and serves as living evidence that it is possible to be cool, smart, principled and pretty at the same time.