2006-11-24 17:28


Baby-faced Tre Stokes (Nick Cannon) is hard work for his handlers, and screws up on the job while trying to prove that he can be a good cop, like his dad. To give him one last chance, they send him undercover as a high school student with orders to bust a vehicle theft ring. The school is a preppy snob-fest and he's the only black dude there. Plus he has to deal with racial prejudice, his attraction to his Spanish teacher, and the case, all at once.


If there's one scene in this movie that sums up just why it's so unutterably bad, it's the one where the cops find the drugs that someone is smuggling. They're "twice as strong as ecstasy" says the cop of the massive tablets, at which the other cop looks totally, like, awestruck. Twice as strong as E? What, like two tablets of E? Or say, an E tablet with actual E in it? Then to test that it's really the new drug, they drop it in a glass of water and it turns blue. Yep, that's some edgy realism right there.

Underclassman wins the prize for worst pretty much everything - even by the standards of an American high-school comedy. The list is long: least convincing love interest, least convincing nerd, least convincing tough guys, least convincing cops (one is played by Cheech Marin), and worst race relations. The levels of stereotyping are high to the point of being toxic.

But, for some reason, the film's very badness is what makes it funny. It's so bad it's almost a parody of itself. Had it only been a conscious parody, it would have been absolutely hilarious. Instead it makes a good video choice if you're too tired or hungover to process anything remotely challenging.

Its hopeless, one dimensional acting and predictable plot derived from a thousand better films puts it right up there with worst of this genre. Unforgettably bad and eminently hireable. Enjoy with toxic orange snacks and fizzy drinks on a sore-headed Sunday.

- Jean Barker

Underclassman is so implausible, so immature, so twee and so damn silly that you'd have to take it seriously to hate it. Enjoy.

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