`SCHOOL' HAS LESSONS TO LEARN.Byline: Bob Strauss Film Critic
If a comedy called ``School for Scoundrels'' wanted to take a really smart approach, it would be aggressive with diabolical schemes and brutal psychological gamesmanship games·man·ship
1. The art or practice of using tactical maneuvers to further one's aims or better one's position: .
If it wanted to go the more standard dumb-comedy route, it would get outrageously ridiculous.
What we have here operates in a no-man's-land between those two poles. It's the latest bland, kind-of-funny thing from director Todd Phillips (``Road Trip,'' ``Old School'') that you keep wishing would get stupider or smarter and nastier or nuttier as it unfolds.
Roles are wasted
Taking its title and basic idea, but little else, from a 1960s British comedy, ``Scoundrels'' goes gleefully glee·ful
Full of jubilant delight; joyful.
glee after America's self-improvement culture. But not gleefully enough. With Jon Heder as a spineless wimp and Billy Bob Thornton Robert George (Bob) Thornton (born July 10 1962, in Los Angeles, California) is a retired American professional basketball player in the NBA whose career lasted from 1985 to 1996. He was a 6'10" 225 forward. He holds career averages of 3.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 283 total games. as the abusive, snake-oily snake who promises to teach him some gumption, the main casting could hardly be better. But the writing, by Phillips and his usual collaborator, Scot Armstrong, doesn't give either comic performer much that's interesting to do.
But at least Thornton and Heder get roles they can work with. Hardly anyone else in the large supporting cast even registers, and that's a double shame when you have good people like the bright, subversive Sarah Silverman Sarah Kate Silverman (born December 1, 1970) is an American comedian, writer and actress. Although usually credited as Sarah Silverman, she is sometimes credited by her nickname Big S or Sarah 'Big S' Silverman. (wasted here, like she was in ``School of Rock,'' as a sarcastic roommate,) and anything-for-a-laugh Michael Clarke Michael Clarke may refer to:
Charming, as always
At least Heder gets to play a man of normal intelligence for a change, and he's as charming at it as he was doing idiots in ``Napoleon Dynamite'' and ``Benchwarmers.'' A New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of meter maid who is so gutless he'll pay threatening violators' parking tickets for them, Heder's Roger can't even impress the at-risk kids he tries to Big Brother. And women? Forget it. When he attempts to ask Amanda (Jacinda Barett), the friendly Australian lass who lives down the hall, out for a date, he faints from nerves.
Roger enrolls in a dubious Learning Annex class taught by Dr. P (Thornton). A sadist and probably worse, Dr. P revels in verbally eviscerating his timid students, then taking them out on exercises like rule-less paintball paintball Sports medicine A sport in which marble-sized gelatin capsules filled with a nontoxic dye are shot at speeds of 300 kph/200 mph Warning: wars, all in the name of turning them into men with, well, male parts. He also imparts fundamental pickup wisdom, which is basically lie, lie and lie to the girl some more.
An apt pupil
Happily, Roger takes to the course. And then Dr. P goes after Amanda. But is this just another part of the curriculum, or is Roger's new manliness being put to a real test?
This question gets turned over so much in the film's second half that, by the time it's resolved, you're too tired of hearing about it to care.
For his part, Thornton slings some barbed zingers For other uses, see .
Zingers are an American snack cake made by both Dolly Madison and Hostess, two iconic American snack food brands owned by Interstate Bakeries Corporation. perfectly and keeps Dr. P a moral enigma for as long as the script requires him to. It's fine work, but we've seen its like before.
C'mon; a movie called ``School for Scoundrels'' needs sharp edges.
Bob Strauss, (818) 713-3670
SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS - Two stars
(PG-13: language, sex, violence)
Starring: Jon Heder, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacinda Barrett, Michael Clarke Duncan.
Director: Todd Phillips.
Running time: 1 hr. 41 min.
Playing: In wide release.
In a nutshell: Assertiveness training assertiveness training Psychiatry A procedure in which subjects are taught appropriate interpersonal responses involving frank, honest, and direct expression of their feelings, both positive and negative course for wimpy Wimpy
sloppily dressed comic strip character; always “forgets” to pay for hamburgers. [Comics: “Popeye” in Horn, 657–658]
See : Irresponsibility guys turns ugly, but not enough to be as funny or wicked as it should be.