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School for Scoundrels
Thanks for being a great jerk, Billy Bob
School for Scoundrels
Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder Star in "School for Scoundrels".
OPENING WEEKEND: $23,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $83,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

March 30th, 2006: A young, hapless meter reader named Roger (Jon Heder) falls head-over-heels in love when he meets his dream girl (Jacinda Barrett). In order to find the necessary courage to ask her out on a date, he enrolls in a confidence-building course. Things seem to be going well, until his instructor (Billy Bob Thornton) takes a personal interest in Roger’s dilemma and decides to use his sharpened skills to compete with the kid for the girl’s affection.

What to Expect: After Road Trip, Old School, and Starsky & Hutch all found their respective cult followings and turned in substantial profits, comedy director Todd Phillips returns to the “juvenile buddy flick” material he is most familiar with. Upon citing creative differences with the unconventional Sacha Baron Cohen, the filmmaker recently walked away mid-production from Borat, a film based on Cohen’s alien-like Kazakhstani character that frequents on “Da Ali G Show.” As a result, Phillips has had plenty of time to focus his efforts on this film instead. His partner-in-crime on the screenplays for all three of his previous films was Scot Armstrong, who comes back for School for Scoundrels as well. I suppose the duo has made a decent enough creative team in the past, so I can think of worse things than another comedy from the two of them. The movie is loosely based on the 1960 British film, School for Scoundrels, in which the protagonist, aided by the expertise of his teacher, learns all the tricks of gamesmanship necessary to outclass his enemies.

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With the grouchy Billy Bob Thornton in one of the lead roles, the remake is bound to have at least one superb performance. I would personally place Thornton among the finest American actors working today and his string of recent comedic hits only illustrates his exceptional range. If his character in The Better Man will at least slightly resemble his creations in Bad Santa or Bad News Bears, then I’m already chuckling. Furthermore, Thornton is a perfect choice for an aggravating ladies man. He’s fairly scrawny and not much to look at, but his nonchalant bad boy persona somehow forces you to forget his physical appearance and accept that it’s entirely reasonable for him to have a playmate in each arm. John Heder, the breakout star of Napoleon Dynamite, will play the unlucky hero and Thornton’s chief rival. I admit that the guy should be credited with crafting one of the most unforgettable losers in movie history, but he has yet to show some true variety. The Benchwarmers, which comes out in April, certainly seems to indicate that Heder is likely to become typecast due to his influential Napoleon Dynamite role, so it remains to be seen whether he is destined for glory or just to become the next “Dell Dude.” Jacinda Barrett, the film’s female interest, has surprisingly sneaked her way into major Hollywood pictures after her unmemorable stint as a Real World cast member. Aside from School for Scoundrels, she also has one of the main roles in this summer’s blockbuster, Poseidon. The rest of the cast is just brimming with stand up comedians and Saturday Night Live veterans, as well as the innovative Luis Guzmán, who should all provide a solid influx of humor.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Phillips’s other three aforementioned comedies, so my enthusiasm about School for Scoundrels is slightly subdued. Road Trip, Old School, and Starsky & Hutch all had their charms, but they also all borrowed heavily from other sources like American Pie, Animal House, or Farrelly Brothers’ comedies to mention a few. They never made me laugh hysterically and failed to achieve greatness beyond the instant appeal of the general premise. School for Scoundrels appears to be a combination of Phillips’s former films and a movie like There’s Something About Marry. Two guys sabotaging each other as they vie for the affection of a girl, I think I’ve seen it before. And other than the title, I doubt School for Scoundrels will take anything away from the witty one-upmanship exercises of the original School for Scoundrels. I’m sure it will rely less on clever trickery and more on gross-out gags, which are acceptable in moderation, but frequently feel less like punch lines and more like cop-outs.

In Conclusion: This is definitely going to be a funny movie, with the unoriginal plot actually serving as a dependable formula for many potential moments of humor. School for Scoundrels will probably benefit less from the screenplay and more from the performances, especially Billy Bob Thornton’s. These are the types of comedies that audiences eat up at the box-office. They’re easy, funny, and just a tad mean-spirited, so everyone can find some indulgence. However, like Phillips’s previous films, I think School for Scoundrels will fail to truly distinguish itself. It should draw some crowds into the theaters, make a nice profit, garner a following on DVD, and live on for a few years as a decent comedy in a long list of many others.

Similar Titles: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Dumb & Dumber
September 29th, 2006 (wide)
February 13th, 2007 (DVD)

The Weinstein Company LLC

Todd Phillips

Billy Bob Thornton, Jon Heder, Jacinda Barrett, David Cross, Michael Clarke Duncan, Luis Guzman, Horatio Sanz, Sarah Silverman, Paul Scheer, Matt Walsh, Dan Fogler

Total: 30 vote(s).


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Rated PG-13 for language, crude and sexual content and some violence







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