The Best and the Brightest

Film
3 out of 5 stars
The Best and the Brightest

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

A XXX-themed variation on Being There set in the cutthroat world of New York City boarding schools, this comedy may not be the best. But it is quite bright, sharply employing its Three's Company--style scenarios for a critique of the privileged class's art-world pretensions and parental craziness over their kids' education. Such concerns come wrapped in a self-consciously absurd package, as writer-director Josh Shelov's tale revolves around a Delaware-transplanted mom (Somerville) who, in order to get her daughter into an elite kindergarten program, has her husband (Harris) pose as a respected poet.

Smutty high jinks ensue when the pornographic text messages of the couple's friend are presented as the pseudo-wordsmith's verses, which are then enthusiastically celebrated by everyone from a nutty counselor (Sedaris) to the school's big-spending donor (McDonald). Shelov wisely handles his premise with tongue firmly in cheek, culminating with a book reading in which comedian John Hodgman expounds on the deep, multiple meanings of ritualistic sodomy. The pacing is a tad too arrhythmic and the comic momentum eventually flags---two things that usually constitiute the kiss of death for any farce, filthy-mouthed or not. But The Best and the Brightest's sharp one-liners and strong cast, especially McDonald's gleefully lecherous performance as an unabashed Republican pervert, help make it a sturdy bit of subculture-tweaking silliness.

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