School for Scoundrels (12A)
Not yet rated
Time Out says
Tue Feb 20 2007Jon ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ Heder plays another geek in this US remake of the 1960s Brit comedy. He’s Roger, a parking attendant who can’t approach his attractive neighbour Amanda (Jacinda Barrett) without passing out. A whisper from an acquaintance leads him to the titular classes, run by the macho Dr P (Billy Bob Thornton), a sort of underground version of Tom Cruise’s guru in ‘Magnolia’.
In theory, Dr P teaches Roger and a bunch of wimps how to gain confidence, but his methods are unusual at best (he pages them at random, ordering them to start a fight). Complications ensue when Roger succeeds in class and Dr P views him as competition. An underhand fight ensues, with the Amanda as the prize.
It’s the stuff of simple comedy, but as frat-flicks go it’s a return to form for director Todd Phillips, who followed ‘Road Trip’ and ‘Old School’ with the flimsy ‘Starsky & Hutch’. A likeable lead, Heder has us rooting for Roger’s transformation from the start, and Thornton is a sinister rival. The narrative drags towards the end, however, and there’s little in the way of clever wordplay or piercing observation: it relies on slapstick for laughs, and none of them reach the point of hilarity. Enjoyable but unambitious, ‘School for Scoundrels’ lacks a competitive drive, and, yes, you’ve seen all the best jokes in the trailer.
Author: Anna Smith
Fri Feb 23, 2007