Saturday, March 28, 2015
SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS (2006)
Directed By: Todd Phillips
Written By: Todd Phillips & Scot Armstrong
Based on the original 1960 Screenplay By: Hal E. Chester & Patricia Moyes
Based On The Novel “SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS OR HOW TO WIN WITHOUT ACTUALLY CHEATING” By: Stephen Potter
Cinematography By: Jonathan Brown
Editor: Leslie Jones & Dan Schalk
Cast: Jon Heder, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacinda Barrett, Sarah Silverman, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Cross, Ben Stiller, Todd Lousio, Dan Folger, Jon Glaser, Matt Walsh, Paul Scheer, Horatio Sanz, DeRay Davis
An unlucky meter reader enrolls in a confidence-building class so he can win the love of the girl of his dreams. The class turns out to be something quite different when it becomes clear to the young man that his professor has his sights set on the same girl.
Originally Bill Murray was attached to play Dr. P at one time with Christopher Masterson playing Roger. Both had to pull out of the project at the last minute. They were both lucky.
Director Todd Phillips first offered the lead role to Howard Stern (Phillips is a big Stern fan), but Stern had to turn it down because he was about to leave terrestrial radio for satellite radio and did not have the time to film a movie. The role eventually went to Billy Bob Thornton.
The film seems to be a darker, shorter version of the Adam Sandler film ANGER MANAGEMENT. The only difference is at least this film I found funnier by a long shot.
This is good enough as you watch it to a degree, but afterwards won’t remember too much or doesn’t make that much of an impact. Like seeing a ok matinee.
Considering all the talent involved this should have been a home run hit, out of the ball park. Instead it feels like all involved are struggling to squeeze every last joke free of any humor it was supposed to have.
It seems to cross some lines, but it's humor seems rounded to reach a particular point then retreat back. It also feels that the humor instead of having an aim will just come in the moment. Rather than having any plan. --The film feels rushed like the filmmakers were making it up as they went along. There seemed to be all these interior shots like the film was closed off to the public (like some of the humor) and it gives the film that sort of mood.
I didn't expect the film to be politically correct, but at least in the first scene i found it a bit racist. Why couldn't the tough criminals be street Asians or tough middle-easterns that you never see in films unless they are the villains or henchmen in action films. Look I know this film didn't start the stereotype, it doesn't need to reinforce it either as it tries to be daring in some ways why not on others. Why play into a lazy joke?
The film seems like it could have used more Sarah Silverman as the nutty roommate. That's like going hunting and leaving your best rifle at home.
The heroine was played by Jacinda Barrett was cute but why in these insane comedies are the women either saintly or whores why never an in between realistic character who gets to be funny also, maybe a nice girl with a past and freaky sexual habits or issues
At this point in his career though adequate for the role Billy Bob Thornton just seems on autopilot only inferring what is needed into his character who seems a bit aimless as he takes not particular joy in his actions or behavior nor does he seem to hate himself he is just doing it as the script requires him to rather than ultimately a reason. He sails through the film with no enthusiasm and looking miserable and go the same performance of an angry, asshole alcoholic which he played to perfection in Bad Santa, but here no passion or glee in it. No charisma I energy either. This isn't the first film that he has been this way in also THE BAD NEWS BEARS (Remake) and also MR. WOODCOCK. I know be is capable of better as he is a very talented actor.
Jon Heder (not one of the talented i was talking about) is not a leading man he is more a comedic or shooting actor. And while he fills the innocent leading role here. When he is taking malicious glee in fighting back. He just seems weak and not impressive. He has the look which might be why he was cast in the first place, but he lacks the true menace that is required. He appears to be a one trick pony hat needs to be out out to pasture or taken to the glue factory. As the role requires a young Ben Stiller type. Like Justin long, Jonah hill or even Michael Cera (sure both of whom weren't around at the one but still)
I tend to like Todd Phillips as a director. I believe he makes comedies that are contemporary yet have a daring feel of the 70's and 80's in terms of the wild atmosphere and craziness put on display. He gives his films a textured look but a sense of danger a punk rock attitude. I just at times wish he picked better material to direct or push the actors to the top of their talents, rather than let them at times sit back and not really give too much of an effort. Which not necessarily be his fault completely his fault.
I always feel a restraint when it comes to his films before THE HANGOVER he pushes the comedy right to the edge then leaves instead of pushing it over the edge which more of his films need. Especially when the scenes call for it.
At least when it comes to some of his films there seems to be a component he is pushing or an element that is experimental. Rather than routine. Even if the film overall comes out that way.
Ben Stiller is in this film and the advertising ruins it, showing us most of his scene. Don't tell is he is in the film. As we will end up waiting to see when he is coming. Further distracting us from the film. Let it be a surprise. Even worse the liens he gets are flat. So the great bonus is spoiled as he isn't even funny in this.
In the end this film feels like a jazz session and everyone is having fun playing, but for the audience not necessarily accustomed to this, it just feels good enough, yet not focused or truly passionate