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Oct. 4, 2006

"School for Scoundrels" doesn’t make the grade

by Josie Callahan, Online Features Editor and Copy Editor
The camera flashes to Jon Heder, sleeping soundly with his mouth agape, breathing heavily. Unfortunately, this is not "Napoleon Dynamite Two," this is "School for Scoundrels," a film which pales in comparison to Heder's earlier film.

Directed by Todd Phillips, "School for Scoundrels" tells the story of a young man named Roger, who is low on luck and confidence until he enrolls in a class to build his self esteem and win over the girl of his dreams, Amanda. His plan becomes complicated as his gruff instructor, known as his teacher, Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton) sets his sights on the object of Roger's affection—Amanda. A hilarious chain of events unfold as Roger attempts to foil Dr. P's twisted plan and the two men become emerged in a battle to ruin the other's life. Assisted by a band of the other misfits in Dr. P's class, Roger struggles to beat the devious instructor at his own game to save his crush—and his pride.

"School for Scoundrel's" is the epitome of type casting. Thornton's character, Dr. P is equally as jerky and unlikable as previous roles played by the actor. Heder seems to be an obvious choice for the quirky misfit Roger, who quickly becomes a loveable protagonist whom the audience cannot help but root for. With an appearance by Ben Stiller as the former student of Dr. P and the last victim of the corrupt teacher's lies, the typical characters do not cease to send the audience into several fits of laughter throughout the movie.

But despite the comical flavor of the movie, there are several unnecessary lines which detract from the innocent, lighthearted humor by offensively stereotyping racial groups. At the beginning of the movie, Roger is ticketing a parked car when two large African American men demand that he cancel the ticket. When he refuses and tries to escape in his tiny meter-maid car, the men walk beside his car and banging on the sides when one pulls a gun from his coat pocket and shoots one of Roger's car tires. The men proceed to steal his clothes, shoes, and money. This interpretation of the only black men in the movie as criminals could be perceived as extremely offensive rather than humorous.

Similarly, Roger's former employer, Ian, comforts Roger in one scene by saying, "Roger, I used to be just like you. But look at me now, I'm awesome! I run this entire place. I'm dating TWO Asian chicks!" These racial references are totally unnecessary and the movie could have been equally funny without these moments.

"This is the funniest movie I've EVER seen!" a twelve year old boy shrieks in between giggles to a group of his hysterical friends in a theater. Though "School for Scoundrels" is not a disaster, and at times can have one in stitches, it is a stretch to say that this is in fact the funniest movie "ever." Only for those under the age of 14 with a desire for crude entertainment and some good laughs would deem "School for Scoundrels" an "A Plus."

"School for Scoundrels" (100 minutes) is rated PG13 for language, crude and sexual content, and some violence.





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  • umm on October 4, 2006 at 11:59 PM
    I think you shouldn't take the racial jokes in this movie so seriously. I doubt the majority of blacks/asian girls are even slightly offended by the cracks at their stereotypes. I would understand if you said you find some of the jokes offensive, but they don't really warrant 1/3 of your review. I mean, people absolutely love Dave Chapelle and he's at least 50% inappropriate racial jokes. It's not like this movie has any enormous ambitions to "touch hearts" or "open minds".
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