The Substitute

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Most pupils at George Washington High, the Miami hellhole where Jane Hetzko (Venora) struggles to stay alive, let alone teach, may be marginally younger than the seeming thirty- somethings in The Lords of Flatbush, but they're far more heavily armed. Typical is the sneering class nasty, Juan (Anthony), who has Hetzko's legs baseball-batted for a slight. At hand, luckily, kicking his heels after a covert operation in Miami, is a facially scarred, wish-fulfilling avenger, Hetzko's Special Forces boyfriend Shale (Berenger), who takes over the class, posing as a Harvard man named 'Mr Smith'. It's not long before he discovers a drug ring, implicating the politically aspirant head Mr Rollé (Hudson), but first, to wage successful war, the class's respect has to be won. In director Mandel's unsophisticated hands, this all comes over like an amusingly preposterous mix of Kindergarten Cop and Dangerous Minds. But the script, by at least three writers, doesn't have the dialogue, characterisations, plotting, or plain interest to sustain a school-based drama. You can sense Mandel's sigh of relief when he's finally able to launch into an Uzi-blazing actioner, second grade.

Release details

Duration: 114 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Robert Mandel
Screenwriter: Roy Frumkes, Rocco Simonelli, Alan Ormsby
Cast: Tom Berenger
Ernie Hudson
Diane Venora
Glenn Plummer
Marc Anthony
Cliff De Young
Richard Brooks
Rodney A Grant
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