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School for Scoundrels

Genre: , ,

Cast: Jon Heder, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacinda Barrett, Michael Clarke Duncan, Sarah Silverman, David Cross, Horatio Sanz, Matt Walsh

Director: Todd Phillips

Rated: PG-13

Review By:
Rocco Passafuime

SUNY Purchase '05

"I don't compromise my values and I don't compromise my work. I won't give in." -Michael Moore

Release Date: February 13th, 2007
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Overall Grade: D

School for Scoundrels

Review By: Rocco Passafuime

Click Here to Read the Theatrical Review!

School for Scoundrels

In the world of the modern Hollywood comedy, the maxim seems to be the following: be crude, be shameless, be predictable, and be outrageous. But more and more, they increasingly fail to follow the most subtle and most important rule: be funny. This was the case with the comedy School For Scoundrels, which is now available for DVD.

Roger (Jon Heder) is a geeky and repressed meter maid in Manhattan who seems to suffer from continuous bad luck and a lack of will to ask out his neighbor Amanda (Jacinda Barrett). On the advice of friend Ian (David Cross), he enrolls in a confidence-building class for men, run by narcissistic teacher Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton).

Soon enough, Roger begins to master Dr. P's unorthodox training and ends up having enough guts to ask Amanda out. However, his change of fortune soon begins to slide as he discovers that Dr. P is willfully trying to disrupt Roger's success by trying to steal his newfound girlfriend away from him.

While Roger valiantly attempts to one-up his teacher-turned-saboteur, Dr. P begins to use his dirtiest tricks possible to move in on his girlfriend and get him fired from his meter maid job. Soon enough, Roger seeks the aid of his fellow students, as well as a disgruntled ex-student (Ben Stiller) who's life Dr. P had previously harmed, to team up with him to win back the woman he loves, as well as finally turn the tables on his would-be mentor.

The film is a loose remake of a 1960s British satirical comedy of the same name, except this one lacks any sort of wit or sharpness whatsoever. Much of the cast in the film are great. Jon Heder once again manages to play a likable and charming geek and Billy Bob Thornton manages to be both chillingly evil and relentlessly charming in the same breath as Dr. P.

However, even their great performances can't do much to offshoot the negative points of the material they work with. The story is incredibly formulaic, the plot constantly strains any sort of believability whatsoever, and the tone is relentlessly crass and mean-spirited and only is occasionally any bit funny.

It was often so crude and so mean-spirited that you often end up more angry at the sort of relentless sadism inflicted at Jon Heder's character then want to laugh at it. You often find yourself feeling rather guilty at any of the remotely funny parts, because they often involve Heder's character in an act of getting even with Thornton's often ruthlessly vicious character.

The DVD's picture quality is in a 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio, with the sound quality being in Dolby Digital Surround 5.1. The DVD is also packed with plenty of special features.

The first is audio commentary with director/co-writer Todd Phillips and co-writer Scot Armstrong. The commentary

is relatively light, but Phillips and Armstrong have great rapport together and do provide some worthwhile information into the process of creating the film.

The second is a behind-the-scenes featurette titled The Making Of You Didn't See On TV. The featurette is a good, well-paced balance of scenes being filmed and interviews with the cast and crew of the film.

Another feature is the film's alternative ending, which ends up ending the film in a more formulaic fashion, but also ends the film in a more relatively benign and believable way. Rounding out the features is a brief gag real that's a mildly amusing curiosity, but nothing really noteworthy.

All in all, School For Scoundrels is simply another notch in the string of relentlessly crude, mean-spirited, and mostly painfully unfunny comedies that have been churned out much too much in recent years. While Jon Heder, Billy Bob Thornton and much of the cast put great effort into making such malicious material work, their efforts are sadly wasted here.

Movie Grade: D
Special Features Grade: B
Overall Grade: C

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