Starring: Jon Heder, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacinda Barrett
Director: Todd Phillips
Running Time: 101 mins
School For Scoundrels is an American film about a young man with next to no luck in his life who enrols in a mysterious class to boost his self-confidence and take what he wants. However, things become complicated when he and his relentless teacher want the same thing.
I really didn’t expect much from this film, going in thinking it was going to be a fairly generic Hollywood comedy with some cheesy romance here and there. Although that is still the case, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by School For Scoundrels, which takes what seems like a very generic story about a loser trying to get the girl of his dreams, and actually make it both funny and engaging to watch from start to finish.
Yes, the overall story arc here is pretty formulaic, and you can see most of its twists and turns coming a mile off, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an entertaining watch. While the main plot points may be predictable, the story moves along at an excellent pace, with the development of our main character from a dweeby loser to a more confident man happening very quickly, and allowing for more time to see the conflict between himself and his teacher unfold.
And that’s easily the most entertaining part of the whole film. Jon Heder gives an impressively likable performance as the young man, and although it’s not on the insanely nerdy level of Napoleon Dynamite, he contrasts brilliantly with Billy Bob Thornton, the seemingly unstoppable operator who does absolutely everything to get his way over everyone else.
The two have a great rivalry throughout the movie, and with those excellently contrasting performances, it’s a lot easier to be pulled in and entertained by watching the two of them do battle, and although you may see what’s coming ahead of time, it’s the fun of the whole journey along the way that’s the best part of all.
What’s more is that the comedy here is surprisingly good. There aren’t any incredibly memorable laughs, but the film consistently made me chuckle, and put a smile on my face with some of the sillier and cheesier moments. It’s a story that you’d think would make for all sorts of cringeworthy moments, but the writing and performances work brilliantly to make sure that’s not the case, instead allowing for a much more light-hearted yet still fully entertaining watch.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with School For Scoundrels. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s a really entertaining comedy with two great performances, a fun story, strong directing and a good sense of humour throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.