Rated: PG-13 Grade: BDDD=D+
Directed by: Steve Pink, who hasn’t directed much, but did write Grosse Point Blank and High Fidelity. If he had written this, it probably would have been much better.
Starring: Justin Long, Jonah Hill, Adam Hershman, Columbus Short, Maria Thayer, Lewis Black, Blake Lively, Mark Derwin, Anthony Heald, and Ann Cusack.
Summary: A disappointed high school senior discovers that he has failed to be accepted into any of the colleges he applied to. To avoid telling his parents, he and some friends create a fake college and then discover that they have inadvertently admitted hundreds of other outcast students.
Entertainment Value: B This is Revenge of the Nerds for the new Millenium, only without some of the vulgarity. It is PG-13, after all. It’s fairly clever, if contrived, and it certainly has some genuinely funny scenes. If you can swallow the preposterous premise and collateral plot issues, it’s a fun watch.
Superficial Content: D Drugs/Alcohol: C, Sexuality C, Violence C, Language C, Illegality C. This is a case where the whole is less than the sum of its parts. There are plenty of things to be bothered by here, but they’re all carefully crafted to be non-R material, even though there’s plenty of vulgarity. A couple of sexual scenes, plenty of women dressed suggestively, talk of masturbation, and a statue carved with outrageously large genitalia. There is profanity, and some violence, caused often by mind powers.
Significant Content: D There is just one theme here. Education is about learning what you want to learn, not about going through a ridiculously structured and boring classroom process. What starts as a semi-prank becomes almost embezzling and then becomes a cause for a kid who didn’t realize he was in search of one. Other minor elements include parental stupidity, anti-authoritarian rants by the “dean” of the fake school, and anti-fraternity plot. In two words: outcasts rule, and they’ll rule well if you’ll just let them be who they really are. Oh, yeah. And if you just lie to your parents really well, in the end they may wind up happy that you did.
Artistic/Thought Value: D Only in a movie. That’s the problem here. If you tried this in real life, it would certainly have a very different outcome. But, that being said, the idea that education should cultivate passion and enthusiasm is, of course, correct. And it’s the “of course” that irritates me here. I totally agree that people often have undiscovered talents that they could use to great advantage. Does that mean that a self-directed university would reveal and cultivate them? I doubt it. In the end, this is so bad as a message-movie that only the low-competence students of South Harmon would believe it anyhow.
- The primary activity of college is reading, writing, and listening to lectures. To what degree is it fair to say that college today exists because people won’t use their library cards?
- This entire movie is based on deception, first of the parents and then of other students and their parents. What do you think would have happened if the main characters had told the truth from the start? If people won’t go along with your project when they know the truth, is it okay to deceive them because you really believe in what you’re doing?
- “Diversity” is a hot topic in educational circles. How does the process of selecting only the academically talented interfere with real diversity? Why is lower intelligence not considered a legitimate sort of diversity? Should it be?
- Have you ever seen a movie that portrayed high school or college realistically? Does this one? Why are movies about education so eager to exaggerate? What lesson can be drawn from this concerning movies about other subjects?
- Have you ever sought approval from people you later recognized weren’t worth seeking it from?
Overall Grade: D+ You can safely pass on it and never feel like you missed anything.