School for Scoundrels (2006) - Unrated Widescreen Edition
|Weinstein Company || Unrated - 107 minutes - $29.95 || February 13, 2007|
|Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2007-02-12|
Writer(s): Todd Phillips & Scot Armstrong (screenplay)
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Jon Heder, Jacinda Barrett, Matt Walsh, Horatio Sanz, Michael Clarke Duncan
Theatrical Release Date: September 29, 2006
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In today's film market, studios look for just about any type of film that is high concept. That is a film like Snakes on a Plane, Saw, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Crank, etc. These are films that can be summarized in one or two sentences. If studios don't go after "high concept" films, they go after anything that is based on a book or comic book, video game or a sequel. Why does all this matter? Honestly it doesn't really (unless you love film) but it is just to state that the current wave of films Hollywood is producing are among the worst films you'll see in your entire life. Hollywood is more interested in making a return on their investment rather than making a quality film. Some of these "high concept" films are good (The 40 Year-Old Virgin is one exception) but the vast majority are well, how do I put it delicately, shit.
That brings us to School for Scoundrels, one of those high concept films that can be summarized in 1 or 2 sentences: "well this film is about a man who teaches nerds how to be cool and really funny stuff happens in between." Unfortunately, not very much is funny in this film. Is it an idea that could be made into a funny film? Yes but director Todd Philips and screenwriter Scot Armstrong instead make a film that has potential but instead is lame and unfunny for the most part. The first 40 minutes or so of the film are bearable thanks to some halfway funny scenes from Billy Bob Thornton, David Cross, Michael Clarke Duncan, a small part from Luis Guzman and most of the cast (except Jon Heder who still plays every role as if he is Napoleon Dynamite). Then the film attempts to be "serious" and frankly it doesn't work. What makes the film so disappointing is that there is some talent involved in making the film. Billy Bob Thornton is great when he's given the chance to shine but in this film he has nothing to work with. I also thought Todd Philips' other film Old School was one of the funniest films of 2003 and even Road Trip had its moments.
To me, these "high concept" films work much better as short films rather than feature length narratives. Can a good film be made with a high concept such as the one in School For Scoundrels, Crank or anything else? The answer is yes but it takes a very talented screenwriter to do so. Sadly, Philips and Armstrong don't put their best foot forward with this film and as a result it falls flat on its face. The potential was there for the film to be funny but none of the potential was taken advantage of. Fans of Billy Bob Thornton, director Todd Philips or even fans of Jon Heder (if he still has any) will be disappointed with the amount of laughs in the film. My advice is to watch the film's first 45 minutes or so and then turn off the rest. That way you can think of your own way to end the film. $10 says it's better than the way Philips and Armstrong chose to end it.
Commentary by director Todd Philips and screenwriter Scot Armstrong: The commentary is fairly basic. Both Philips and Armstrong talk about films that inspired them to make this film as well as backgrounds on a lot of the lesser known actors. They also get into the fact that a lot of the big actors like Ben Stiller, Luis Guzman, David Cross and Michael Clarke Duncan did the film for them as a favor. If you actually do end up liking the film, you may want to check out the commentary. If not, I wouldn't even bother. They don't really have anything really interesting to say about the process of making the film.
The Making of You Didn't See on TV: This extra runs about 19 minutes and is basically a behind the scenes look at the film. Contrary to the title, there isn't really anything about the actual "making" of the film. Instead it is the cast and crew joking around about their experiences on the film. Judging from the making, it looks like the cast and crew had such a good time that they forgot to make a good film.
Alternate Ending (4 minutes): The "alternate ending" is actually the same ending as in the film in terms of the result but with less slapstick. I actually thought this ending was much better than the one used in the film. The one used in the film tried to hard to be funny and basically is just a scene that runs too long to begin with.
Rounding out the extras is a two minute gag reel and a theatrical trailer for the film.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
The video transfer is solid but nothing spectacular, which is expected on a comedy. The film is in 2.35:1 aspect ratio and for the most part, the picture is solid.
The audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and is fairly average but once again, that is expected on a comedy film. I thought in a couple scenes, the audio transfer may have been off in terms of the sound matching the action.
As mentioned in the review, I thought the film was a wasted opportunity given the cast and crew. The film gets off to a good start but goes downhill once it tries to get "serious." The DVD itself is just about as average as you can get in terms of quality and extra features. This edition claims to be "unrated and uncut" but unfortunately I did not see the theatrical release so I cannot comment on what specific changes were made to the film. In terms of the actual film, I'd wait to watch it on cable or rent it if you absolutely have nothing else to watch.