'School' teaches no new lessons
October 5, 2006
It’s strange how some actors continue to play the same types of characters over and over again, yet it seems as though they never get tired of it.
Indeed, this is the case for Jon Heder and Billy Bob Thornton in “School for Scoundrels.” Heder plays the hopeless loser, and Thornton is once again a tough guy who doesn’t take shit from anybody.
In this story, Roger (Heder) is a pathetic meter maid in New York, consistently terrorized and humiliated by even regular guys on the street. Overcome by fits of anxiety, he blacks out. In his apartment, there are piles of self-help books stacked everywhere. He even tries to make small talk with Amanda (Jacinda Barrett), a crush who lives nearby, but instead makes a fool of himself.
Tipped off from a friend, Roger enrolls in an underground confidence-building class where he’s mentored by the intimidating Dr. P (Thornton). From the moment we’re introduced to the teacher, we instantly realize this guy means business.
Through unconventional methods, Dr. P molds his students from shy wimps to grown men capable of standing up for themselves. Roger especially makes progress, shining above the rest.
But Roger is warned, for another pupil of Dr. P had also shown above the rest of his classmates and inadvertently brought Dr. P to his competitive side. In the end, it came to the point of utter psychological destruction for that student.
To Roger’s horror, this comes true. No prank is too low for Dr. P, nor is it original enough to prove himself as the master. So in order to step up, Roger recruits his friends to show what they too can pull off.
Personally, I thought the film worked pretty well. It kept my interest going, while retaining a sense of plot.
Yes, films like this, which are filled with locker room humor and blunt objects hitting a guy’s johnson, seem to be everywhere nowadays, but nonetheless it kept my attention. Really, it’s nothing new — we’re introduced to an underdog in the beginning, feel sympathy for him and end up cheering him on once he gets the girl.
Perhaps it’s because both actors really do get into their parts deeply. Obviously after doing those same types of characters so many times, they’ve entrenched themselves into that mode of thinking.
I admit, I saw a transformation in Roger. In the beginning, he was convincing as a hapless wuss, who turned out to be a master of Dr. P’s teachings in the end.
Though I have seen better, wittier comedies in the past, I have to admit this one entertained me all the same. After all, if a film entertains you and you have a good time, then it’s done it’s job
Nick Welsh is a student at UW-River Falls.