School for Scoundrels

2008-01-10 16:42
 
What it's about:

Roger (Jon Heder), a timid loser, enrolls in a confidence building course run by the acerbic Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton), who coaches through trial and humiliation. Things start looking up for Roger, but when he and his mentor fall for the same girl the trouble starts.

What we thought it of:

Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder are in two of the greatest comedies of all time (Bad Santa and Napoleon Dynamite), so School for Scoundrels should've been a riot – despite the rather generic-sounding plot. Unfortunately the talent of neither lead had any chance against a script so by-the-numbers that it could have been written by accountants.

Containing neither over the top energy or extreme tastelessness that could coax a laugh from pedestrian material, the plot edges forward in the most predictable way imaginable – Roger does the nerdiest possible thing in every situation, making his character so ridiculous that it's almost impossible to sympathise with him. The same goes for the devious Dr. P, who is mean all the time without ever showing a shred of humanity.

You'll find a few laughs among the recycled jokes: a very funny tennis match between Roger and Dr. P including witty dialogue, and moments of real comic chemistry. Sarah Silverman (as Roger's bossy neighbour) manages to steal every scene she's in, but again, she's hamstrung by the arbitrary script.

School for Scoundrels ends up being the movie equivalent of some drunk guy in a bar stumbling through a joke you've just heard. Badly. If studios put so much money into marketing what's stopping them sinking some of it into decent writing? The wasted potential of a great cast makes School for Scoundrels especially disappointing.

- Ivan Sadler
A timid man takes a night class to gain confidence and self-esteem from an unconventional life coach. Battle lines are drawn when they both fall for the same girl.

Craig 2007/11/01 8:01 AM
Should not have bothered A movie that had everything it needed to be a great comedy. Unfortunately the writers looked they were hired from the discovery channel. It leant too much towards the drama and missed out on the potential hysterics, though there were some good laughs. Great cast, but at the end not worth the money paid.
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