Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day One Hundred and Ninety-seven - Assassination of a High School President, "Feels occasionally like Rushmore, but is more like Gossip Girl"

St.Donovan's is a hotbed of white privilege and it's up to Bobby Funke to get to the seedy underbelly and root out the cancer in pure journalistic brilliance a la Woodward and Bernstein.

Or so he would like to think.

I think that Assassination of a High School President would very much like to be Rushmore in terms of satire and attention to detail and Election when it comes to taking down spoiled, WASPy metrosexuals that seem to be the norm of this generation's zeitgeist.

With Funke the would be whisleblower to a grand conspiracy of lies, embezzlement, drugs, sex, and even attempted murder, the film does its best to portray both the popular elite and burnout delinquents as cut from the exact same nihilistic narcissism. The only thing that seems to separate the two subsets is a will to power that the student council blithely operates with and "the usual suspects" don't seem to care about.

It's easy to both like and hate this film. There's lots in the way of cinematography and color design that really makes me happy with their art director, but none of the oomph in the script that I would want to go with it.

The quirky asides and misdirects that should win me over feel tacked on and more than a bit pretentious. Like when one of the burnouts plays around in the background while Funke is on the phone. It would be a brilliantly funny thing in a Wes Anderson pic, but here it's just unnecessary and distracting.

And the film can get so random at times... like when the patch-girl get's seduced by another of the burnies. It's so superfluous and only might have something to do with what's going on elsewhere.


Despite it's shortcomings (Bruce Willis being one of them), AoaHSP is actually a pretty interesting satire on prep school life. Not exactly a diatribe on high school in general, it nevertheless has quite a bit to say about teens in the upper middle crust.

I found it particularly hilarious (and pointed) when Funke tracks down an old buddy in a public school which is much more noticeably Black and Hispanic in population and much less fashionable. Sure, everyone's in uniform at the private school, but they also have a crap ton more product in their hair and have drunken, drugged out parties, and (aside from a few tokens) are very, very white. It's a subtle but quite poignant message about the dividing line of privilege.

I'm not exactly thrilled with Mischa Barton's (or anyone's, really) performance... as she stares blank-eyed for the grand majority of the film, but it's an interesting piece.

It just never goes beyond the base "good" to become something better.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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