School For Scoundrels

Directed by Todd Phillips

> > Apr 2007

School For Scoundrels - Directed by Todd Phillips
By Thomas QuinlanFrom the duo responsible for mildly successful comedies Road Trip, Old School and Starsky & Hutch comes their newest fish-out-of-water flick, School For Scoundrels, based very loosely on director Robert Hamerís í60s British comedy of the same name. Writer/director Todd Phillips and co-writer Scott Armstrong present the story of meter maid Roger (Napoleon Dynamiteís Jon Heder), who, sick and tired of being down on his luck, enrols in a secret confidence building class taught by the cocky, egomaniacal Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton). While Rogerís confidence continues to grow and he looks ready to get the girl (Jacinda Barrett), it all begins to unravel as Dr. P moves in to woo her as well. Of course, a battle of wits ensues with an outcome that is obvious. Thornton plays Dr. P, a role specifically written for him, as a suave, clean version of Willie from Bad Santa, and heís countered well by Heder, an expert at playing the naÔve push-over, breaking just a little more from the Napoleon mould, especially as Roger gains confidence. Plus, it doesnít hurt that the supporting cast is composed of great comedians and improv actors like Ben Stiller, Sarah Silverman, David Cross, etc. There are some funny moments, like the paintball session, and a few twists and turns that keep the movie from being too straight forward, but Scoundrels just doesnít have as many laughs as youíd expect from a cast like this. Still, the commentary by Phillips and Hamer reveals a lot about their ongoing working relationship, along with a few interesting titbits about the movie, like Hederís desire to perform all of his own stunts. However, itís the featurette "The Making-Of You Didnít See on TVĒ where the cast really get to flex their improv and comedy muscles; itís especially amusing to see the dialogue between Thornton and Heder as their characters from Sling Blade and Napoleon Dynamite, respectively. Scoundrels may be a mostly mindless comedy but itís perfect as a late night, brain dead rental.
(Alliance Atlantis)
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