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Katie Holmes flunks out with ''Teaching Mrs. Tingle''

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Katie Holmes flunks out with ”Teaching Mrs. Tingle”

As Joey Potter on ”Dawson’s Creek,” Katie Holmes effortlessly oozes star power from her every pore. She’s too beautiful to be believable as a tomboy whose good looks were only recently noticed by her classmates, but her unpretentious presence makes her seem the most approachable of the WB’s stable of ultratelegenic faux teens. So why hasn’t she been able to translate her naturalistic charisma into movie stardom yet?

The simplistic answer would be to say she’s chosen bad scripts, but that’s not quite the case. True, one of her first post-”Creek” features, last year’s ”Disturbing Behavior,” was an unwatchable exercise in pubescent paranoia written by the always-wretched Scott Rosenberg (”Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead”). Yet this spring’s box office nonstarter ”Go” featured a dizzyingly rich and complicated screenplay by John August. And her latest failure, ”Teaching Mrs. Tingle” comes from ”Scream” and ”Creek” creator Kevin Williamson, so you can hardly blame Holmes for trusting him.

Part of the problem is that Holmes is trying to run too far away from Joey too fast. ”Behavior” miscast her as a black-clad bad girl; she looked like a little girl dressed up in Mommy’s clothes (given that Mommy is a biker chick, that is). She was better suited to her ”Go” role as a naive supermarket clerk who winds up making out with a buff drug dealer, but adolescent audiences rejected this sophisticated cinematic effort in favor of frothier fare like ”She’s All That.” She seemed ideal for the part of an overambitious honor student in ”Tingle,” until the unseemly let’s-torture-the-teacher plotline ultimately proved neither amusing enough to qualify as a comedy nor scary enough to make the grade as a horror flick.

Maybe Holmes just needs to lighten up. Put her in a smart romantic comedy and she could blossom into the Gen-Y Julia Roberts. Or perhaps she should leave the teenage genre behind. Before she landed ”Creek,” Holmes made a promising big-screen bow in ”The Ice Storm” as Tobey Maguire’s object of desire. There she held her own with a cast that included not only gifted peers Maguire and Christina Ricci, but also such mature Hollywood heavy hitters as Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen, and Kevin Kline.

It sounds like she’s back on the right track with her next project, ”Wonder Boys.” Like ”Ice Storm,” it’s a literary adaptation that teams her with Maguire. She’s also working with three Oscar winners: Michael Douglas, Frances McDormand, and ”L.A. Confidential” auteur Curtis Hanson. One caveat: Her co-ed character has a crush on Douglas’ middle-aged (to put it politely) professor. I can only pray that it remains unconsummated.

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