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LOVE AND LAUGHS

On the Line ** 1/2

Rated PG

Starring Lance Bass of 'N Sync and Emmanuelle Chriqui

It may be hard to imagine a member of the excessively popular boy band 'N Sync as "the guy who always chokes" when it comes to girls, but if I had to pick one, it'd be Lance Bass.

Commonly cute and very harmless, Lance plays Kevin Gibbons the nice guy who just can't seal the deal in the new romantic comedy, "On the Line." Kevin, a sweet but shy 20-something advertising exec, happens to meet Abby (Emmanuelle Chriqui), a beautiful aspiring archaeologist, on the L train.

Unfortunately, he forgets to ask her name or number and they're both left with only the memory of their ride through Chicago. With a flash of determination, Kevin photocopies fliers pleading for the mystery L train girl to call him.

Instantly, he's the favorite human interest story of the Windy City.

Joey Fatone, also 20 percent of 'N Sync, plays Kevin's dumb best friend who's still holding onto rock-star dreams that Kevin abandoned back in high school. With the exception of a few too many flatulence jokes, Fatone is most of the comic relief of the movie -- and he's good at it.

When all of Chicago's eligible ladies call Kevin claiming to be the L train girl, he can't handle it. His friends offer to screen the girls by dating them all, and he mistakenly agrees. A number of humorous, chaotic and even injurious dates ensue. One thing never discussed was what to do if Abby really showed up, and when she does, everything goes wrong. They've found her, now can they get her back?

"On the Line" was doctored a little to achieve the PG rating needed for 'N Sync's many preteen fans, and the bad dubbing of some swear words shows it. The soundtrack is a highlight for boy band fans, but it isn't too overwhelming for those of us who don't own Lance Bass pocket folders and Joey Fatone pajama pants.

"On the Line" goes a little overboard when Fatone writes an uncharacteristic, sappy tune about his unfortunate friend, but moviegoers aren't subjected to watching him sing it in his rock-star garb for too long.

The plot is overly simple and shallow but it's digestible for the 85 minutes. At times, "On the Line" is downright hilarious and one can't help but hope that poor Kevin gets his girl. Cheesy? Yes. Predictable? Of course. (The similarity to "Never Been Kissed" is unmistakable.) But it's still a cute, fun flick.

OK, so maybe 'N Sync didn't need more media exposure from a typical romantic comedy. At least it wasn't "Spiceworld 2."

Amanda Pendolino is a junior at Clarence High School.

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