Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Jon Heder, Jacinda
Barrett, Michael Clarke Duncan, Sarah Silverman, David Cross,
Horatio Sanz, Matt Walsh
RunTime: 1 hr 40 mins
Released By: GVP
Official Website: http://www.schoolforscoundrels-movie.com/
Day: 4 January 2007
The movie, starring Jon Heder and Billy Bob Thornton, is about
a beleaguered New York City meter maid who is plagued by anxiety
and low self-esteem. In order to overcome his feelings of
inadequacy, Roger (Jon Heder) enrolls in a top-secret confidence-building
class taught by the suavely underhanded Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton).
Aided by his assistant, Lesher (Michael Clarke Duncan), Dr.
P uses unorthodox, often dangerous methods, but he guarantees
results: Employ his techniques and you will unleash your inner
might seem like a match made in comedy heaven. With both Napoleon
Dynamite and Bad Santa joining up in “School for Scoundrels”
together with the director of “Old School”, Todd
Philips, it just looks like a recipe for success. But as we’ve
seen in the recent “The Benchwarmers”, that isn’t
always the case. A staple in most American comedies of a similar
mould, story naturally takes its cue from the screwball antics.
As well as being more uneven than it is allowed to be, “School
for Scoundrels” is also as commercially mainstream as
it gets. There isn’t a soft heartfelt centre, nor is
there a bitter coating of stinging spite. It just ends up
becoming an utterly redundant exercise juvenile humour that’s
been done one too many times.
what they say. Girls love the bad boys, or at least the ones
that don’t take them seriously. Roger (Jon Heder), a
luckless, maladjusted meter maid (no matter how much he desists
to be called that) is infatuated with the girl next door,
played by a radiant Jacinda Barrett. To overcome his debilitating
shyness and lack of coolness, he enrolls in a confidence-building
class taught by Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton) and Lescher (Michael
Clarke Duncan). Heder just doesn’t pull off the shy
guy schtick well enough, and the lack of presence next to
Thornton’s suave, arrogant mixture of vile smoothness
and rascality is deeply obvious. Whereas in “Napoleon
Dynamite”, the lack of an onscreen personality was a
boon to the character, it now seems like a performance flaw
derived from a lackadaisical comedic endeavour.
finds support from his other gormless classmates played by
Walsh (Matt Walsh), Diego (Horatio Sanz) and Eli (Todd Louiso)
as the film ostensibly kicks to its first and only gear when
the lovably callous Dr P turns the tables on Roger’s
non-existent love life. A battle of wits emerges, one that
Roger does not even know he’s participated in. It’s
reminiscent of the Nicholson/Sandler showdown in “Anger
Management” when the student is pitted against the teacher
in supposedly innocuous everyday situations.
a real treat in this, just not enough to warrant much interest
in the overall product. The charming rogue routine is something
he’s fine-tuned since “Bad Santa” and has
found a niche in black comedies like “Bad News Bears”
and the sorely underrated noir-comedy, “The Ice Harvest”.
Unfortunately it’s starting to seem like American comedies
need either Will Ferrell or Steve Carell to get any sort of
leverage on the concept of funny.
(A thoroughly weak syllabus that even Thornton fails to save)
by Justin Deimen