by Josh Boris
Let’s be honest; the new movie offerings are paltry at best. There’s so much crap out there that I had to decide between seeing “The Guardian” (in which they actually allow Kevin Costner to star in a movie revolving around water again), “Open Season” (the 52nd talking animal movie to come out this year), or “School for Scoundrels.” I felt in the mood to desperately search for laughs, so “School for Scoundrels” won out.
I cringed when I bought the ticket, I cringed when the movie started, and I may have vomited a little bit in my mouth when the movie ended.
The movie stars John Heder (yes, Napoleon Dynamite) as, surprise surprise, a panic-attack-ridden loser meter maid named Roger. Roger has trouble in all aspects of life, so he enrolls in a super secret class to build him into a real man taught by the badass Dr. P (so cool his last name is only one letter) played by, surprise surprise, Billy Bob Thornton.
When Roger begins to build confidence and asks out his hot next-door neighbor, Dr. P decides he’s gotten too cocky and needs to steal the girl to bring Roger down a notch.
What ensues is a battle royale over Amanda (Jacinda Barrett) in which each tries to ruin the other’s reputation and win the girl.
It appears as if little to no effort actually went into making this movie. Take a clichéd, cookie cutter script, insert some “wild” physical comedy and some familiar faces, and voíla, you have a shitty movie.
They didn’t even try. Every role is typecast; the badass is played by a badass, the bitch is played by a bitch and the band of losers is played by such tried and true movie losers as that nerdy guy from High Fidelity (Todd Louiso), SNL alum Horatio Sanz, and Napoleon Dynamite.
By the way, whoever told John Heder he can play a part that isn’t Napoleon Dynamite should be shot.
This movie really should have taken more chances and been rated ‘R.’ Much of the film just seems too tame for the subject matter. The class is supposed to build weaklings into lying, conniving, adulterous men, but it just makes them into slightly more assholish losers.
When Dr. P and Roger go all out to ruin each other, they take such passive-aggressive routes as hitting each other with tennis balls, towing a car, and sending a letter to Roger’s male superior that gets him fired for sexual harassment.
For a film about men who are supposed to become lions on the prowl, the stunts make them look like house cats.
Obviously the actors play their parts the way they’re supposed to, but there’s no energy or charisma.
The only truly good performances are presented by Sarah Silverman and David Cross, and their scenes total about 10 minutes of the entire movie.
However, I shouldn’t jump to blame the actors so quickly when the script is such a bland, plothole-ridden mess.
Honestly, the movie was already derailed for me in the first 15 minutes because, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how the poor loser meter maid who can never make decisions managed to wrangle up $5,000 to attend a class he barely even knows about.
In more capable hands, with a better script and some different actors, this movie might have been good. Oh, the ifs of Hollywood. Save your money and wait for Scorcese’s new film “The Departed” next week.