Starring Jon Heder, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacinda Barrett, Michael Clarke Duncan, Matt Walsh, Horatio Sanz, David Cross, Ben Stiller
Written By: Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong
Directed By: Todd Phillips
Studio: Dimension/ Weinstein Company
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I wanted to see School for Scoundrels, but just never gotten around to it. The way the studios pump out DVDs these days, I’d figure I’d wait a few months to catch this Jon Heder/Billy Bob Thornton comedy. The movie has a few funny moments but in the end, I think it could have been funnier.
The movie is about a loser meter reader Roger (Jon Heder) who decides he needs some sort of guidance in life. His friend tells him to join this confidence-building class, taught by an egomaniac guy named Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton). The class isn’t what Roger expected it to be, along with the rest of his classmates. The group of rejects get taught how to stick up for themselves, how to be cooler and tougher. They get taught not to back down from anyone and have some balls. When Roger gets noticed for his great work in the class, Dr. P takes it to the next level. He becomes Roger’s enemy and they both try to win the heart of Roger’s Australian neighbor, Amanda (Jacinda Barrett). The rival between teacher and student gets really out of hand, and each person will do anything to see the other fail.
I thought the premise of the movie was good, but I think it turned into a romantic comedy too much in the end. I liked seeing some Joe Schmo loser going to a class to boost his self-esteem. The beginning of the movie was funny because Roger was such a wimp, and it was great how everyone was taking advantage of him. The best part of the movie was when everyone started taking the class and having to do assignments. Wherever they were, they had to start some sort of confrontation and it resulted in some funny moments. Another great scene was when Roger and Dr. P had to play tennis with Amanda and her bitchy roommate. Seeing Roger torture Dr P. was fun to watch and got a few chuckles out of me.
But the biggest problem with the movie is it doesn’t sustain the laughs for the whole movie. It becomes this 80’s teen romantic comedy movie, where Roger is trying to win heart of the pretty girl. He fights to show what Dr. P really is and we’ve just seen this concept over and over on TV shows and movies. Another problem I had with the movie was the acting of Jon Heder. I just don’t think the guy is a good actor. He got uber-popular with Napoleon Dynamite but I think he’s just not as funny with the giant afro and moon boots. But I just don’t think he can act in general. Thankfully Billy Bob Thornton made this movie decent, and he definitely was the right person to teach the confidence-building class. The supporting cast was good as well, including Michael Clarke Duncan, Ben Stiller, David Cross and Matt Walsh. If anything, they were under-used but they weren’t that essential to the story.
The bonus features on the DVD include a funny gag reel, alternate ending, a making of you didn’t see on TV, and audio commentary with director Todd Phillips and writer Scot Armstrong. I thought the gag reel was funny, and ran just a little under 2 minutes. The alternate ending wasn’t as good as the original ending. It was funnier to see Roger get onto the airplane and get zapped.
I thought School for Scoundrels started out good but then I lost interest towards the end. It could have been a lot funnier towards the end. There’s still plenty of laughs in the movie, just more sporadic than I was hoping for. You might like this movie from Todd Philips, but then again, maybe you won’t.
The Making-Of You Didn’t See on TV
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Todd Phillips and Writer Scot Armstrong
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 CC
Widescreen 2.35:1 Color (Anamorphic)
Favorite Scenes: Roger and Dr P playing tennis, paintball game, the class getting their first assignment
Running Time: 107 minutes