School for scoundrels
Review by Shamma M. Raghib
Director: Todd Phillips
Based on an original screenplay by: Hal E. Chester, Patricia Moyes
Cast: Dr. P: Billy Bob Thornton, Roger: Jon Heder(of Napoleon Dynamite),Amanda: Jacinda Barrett.
Running time -- 101 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
Campus Rating: 4.5/10
Billy Bob Thornton stars in 'School For Scoundrels' as a foul-mouthed, snarling bad guy who takes advantage of a bunch of girly guys. He has the auspicious name of Dr. P., which can be defined by the extent of verbal abuse in the movie. Poor Jon Heder the famed player of 'Napoleon Dynamite', plays Roger, a hapless employee of the New York City Parking Bureau who signs up for a mysterious Learning Annex offering after losing his meter-maid job and suffering his third rejection as a Big Brother (at the hands of kids). Needless to say, Roger has no luck with women either; he's the kind of guy who faints while asking out his fetching and endlessly sweet Aussie neighbor, Amanda (Jacinda Barrett).
Roger joins a roomful of fellow doormats and girly wonders who each cough up $5,000 in cash for the honor of being verbally abused by Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton). Along with his henchman, Lesher (Michael Clarke Duncan), the bad doctor puts the desperate men through a series of confrontations that are meant to make a man out of them, but mostly are exercises in stupidity. At a paintball "retreat" in the woods -- the genesis of an unfortunate running "joke" involving rape -- Roger takes a stand against the mountainous Lesher and earns Dr. P's respect.
By distinguishing himself he also becomes a target of the teacher's special reserve of animosity. The game is on, as they say in the scoundrel business, after Dr. P makes a move on Roger's crush Amanda. Posing as a bookish and sensitive widowed surgeon, he appeals to her compassion while the enraged and flailing Roger looks increasingly demented. And this is where the fun begins.
School For Scoundrels takes a break from the typically programmed comedy by providing some unusual twists in Roger's pursuit of Amanda. For the negatives that I observed in the film; the movie spends most of its time in finding satirical underpinnings on how to make a man out of a man (yes you read that right)! Another part was the pointless introduction of one of Dr. P's ex-student who is completely disturbed. There are many obscene languages so make sure you don't have family around.
The casting is also so obvious -- Heder as a nerd, Thornton as a wiseass, Sarah Silverman as Amanda's bitchy roommate -- that it drains the film of a proper comedic beginning. Even after all this glitches, there are some brilliant comedic scripts. The most interesting aspect to me is the character played by Thornton, who's perfectly mastered this kind of grumpy, cynical bastard since 'Bad Santa'. Dr P is an extreme kind of self-help guru, credits to him for that. I will not elaborate on the rest of the movie except for the fact that it is set in a New York neighborhood with a glint of British humor. If you liked 'Napoleon Dynamite', you might as well like this one. So check it out … borrow it from a movie shop don't be 'Dynamitistic' enough to go buy it! Unfortunately I was!
(R) thedailystar.net 2006