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school for scoundrels
Click for full sized poster

School for Scoundrels

Starring Billy Bob Thornton and John Heder
Screenplay by Todd Phillips and Scot Armstrong
Based on a 1960 British film of the same title
Directed by Todd Phillips

IN SHORT: chock full o' funny. [Rated PG-13 for Language, Crude and Sexual Content, and Some Violence. 101 minutes]

We thank Sarah Silverman for the summary (she said it on Leno). It's entirely appropriate.

Why is it, we ask rhetorically, that movies about the average shlub making the big score (you fill in the details, we're writing rhetorically...) are so popular. It is because we are all shlubs. And because ten out of ten models are not all that interesting.

Wait, sorry, that's the anti-depressants kicking in. It's another dateless Friday night and Cranky sits hunched over a keyboard, reviewing this months shlub-makes-good comedy, School for Scoundrels. No sob story or space filling commentary from here on out folks. School for Scoundrels is a genuinely funny film that should make John Heder's parents beam with pride. Better than that, for those of us who have no real lives but those we get to experience via the big screen, John Heder gives us all a reason to live. 'Cuz if his shlub can get the girl, heck, there's hope for the rest of you.

Heder, eventually to be legend for the near-classic Napoleon Dynamite, stars as Uber Schlub Roger Waddell <g>, a New York City meter maid -- talk about an emasculating job title -- whose tongue locks up within ten miles of any female glance. Dateless, sexless, and the tick tick ticking of biological clock time pounding in his ear every time he sees the lovely femmes who lives across the hall of shlub's dark apartment house. Becky (Sarah Silverman) can bring men to their knees with just a glance, though in her case the male of the species is usually left in a puddle of fear-generated sweat as Becky is the usual diamond edged witch that Silverman plays so well. Luckily, this film isn't about her. It's about her Aussie roommate, Amanda Richards (Jacinda Barrett), the would be apple of uber-schlub's eye.

What's a shlub to do? He thanks his lucky stars for the intervention of co-worker Ian (David Cross,) who provides the phone number of the school of the film's title. None of the classmates are scoundrels by any stretch of the imagination. Then again, School for Shlubs wouldn't get you to lay down the cash, right? Right. Said school is run by Dennis Sherman aka "Dr. P" (Billy Bob Thornton) with the imposing Lesher (Michael Clarke Duncan) as his right hand, uh, enforcer. Roger's fellow classmates are the utter definition of "loser": Walsh (Matt Walsh) still lives in his mom's basement. Punching bag Diego (Horatio Sanz) wants to grow a pair to enable him to stand up to his abusive wife. Eli (Todd Louiso), believe it or not, is even shyer than Our Hero. "Dr. P." avows that he, too, was once a loser shlub. That he overcame his shlubbiness and can teach his students how to become real manly men. He's done it before. He plans to take the money and do it again, until he gets an eyeful of the aforementioned lovely Amanda and . . .

Oh, heck, we still have half a page to fill and you already can write the rest of the script description from your own memory of every movie like this ever made. The big difference is that School for Scoundrels happens to be a very funny movie. Heder is funny, but we knew that already. Thornton is funny, as is the blonde dye job his hair has been put through for this role. Michael Clarke Duncan is funny. The script is funny. Heck, even Ben Stiller is funny (and ain't that a kick in the pants!) -- even though we haven't told you how Stiller fits into Roger's plans for revenge . . . OK, now we have. The script is incredibly lightweight and is the basis for just the kind of movie that screams "Take a date".

So, go a couple of times. School for Scoundrels is the kind of comedy that had us laughing consistently all through the running time and whose story vanished instantly once we were out of the theater. That usually means a flat out rental rating by Cranky's scale, but the darn thing is just too funny to make any of y'all wait the six months for the DVD.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to School for Scoundrels, he would have paid . . .


Better than the average date movie. Certainly a lot of fun, from the male POV. Recommended as long as you're not going solo -- give up on the pathetic shlub existence and get a date!

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