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School for Scoundrels
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie isn't suitable for kids -- plus, it's just not a very good movie. It's got everything going against it -- foul language, poor behavior, crude humor, and slapstick violence that's so not-funny that it really isn't funny. Save your hard-earned dollars for something better. That said, because Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) stars, kids will be begging to see it. So please take some time to talk about the movie with your kids so you can add your two cents.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Roger (Jon Heder), a hapless meter reader plagued by anxiety and low self-esteem is smitten with Amanda (Jacinda Barrett). To gain the courage he needs to ask her out, he enrolls in a confidence-building class taught by the seedy Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton). Aided by his assistant, Lesher (Michael Clarke Duncan), Dr. P pushes the envelope with weird methods guaranteed to unleash your inner animal. His other students include Walsh (Matt Walsh), who's dying to move out of his mom's basement; Diego (Horatio Sanz), a reluctant punching bag for his wife; and Eli (Todd Louiso), who just wants to find a nice girl. But it turns out that Dr. P gets a little competitive with his students, which means one thing: They have to beat him at his own game.
Is it any good?
This movie is a complete disaster. Based loosely on the 1960 British film School for Scoundrels or How to Win Without Actually Cheating!, this is another juvenile buddy flick along the lines of Old School and Road Trip, also directed by Todd Phillips. But it likely won't acquire the cult following of those movies, thanks to a few minor details -- like, oh, directing, casting, and writing. The film lacks the energy of Phillips' earlier movies, and the pacing and comedic timing are dismal.
Heder is completely miscast. He has one emotion -- goofy -- and when he tries to act scared or serious, it just ends up right back at goofy. He also has zero chemistry with Barrett and Thornton. Thornton is a formidable actor, but this is likely the worst film he's ever made. The rest of the cast members, including the usually great David Cross and Sarah Silverman, are just killing time, waiting for the end credits to roll.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about constructive ways to improve confidence and self-esteem. What tools and behavioral techniques might be helpful? What should you do if someone you trust turns out to be a jerk? Why is it never OK to make fun of other people? What should you do if you see others being made fun of?