Lance Clayton (Williams) is a high school teacher raising his surly, not-too-deep 15-year-old Kyle (Sabara) on his own. He's seeing the frisky art teacher Claire (Gilmore), who wants to keep their relationship a secret and seems to have eyes for another rather too-sexy teacher (Simmons). But Lance's main problem is that he feels he's settling for a mediocre life, having never had any of his writing published. Then a freak accident presents him with an opportunity for the fame that's eluded him. If only he can suppress his conscience.
This is one of those films that constantly pulls the rug out from under us, not because of massive plot twists but because the issues it grapples with get increasingly provocative. Filmmaker Goldthwait (who also has a witty cameo) keeps the tone brittle and dry while delving deep under the surface of a man who's at the end of every rope in his life. The script is snappy and observant, with several emotional kicks that are all the more potent because of the way they're smartly underplayed.
The film's darkly comical tone suggests an actor like Billy Bob Thornton, but Williams' casting is a stroke of genius as he adds warmth that holds our sympathy. It's a perfectly graded performance that channels his skills for comedy into something that's quite bleak and sad, although his bristling humour keeps us on edge. And his interaction with Sabara (in a bravely full-on performance) is especially compelling, as are his scenes with McCall as a lonely, sassy neighbour.
Some of the ironic plot turns feel somewhat forced, but Goldthwait never takes the easy route through a difficult scene, He constantly pokes his characters to see what interesting things they do next, then adds hilarious moments that let us release the pressure with a big laugh. And along the way, we get a vivid look at the absurdity of a society in which tabloid headlines are a better marketing device than actual talent.
Run time: 99 mins
In Theaters: Friday 24th September 2010
Box Office USA: $0.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $295.8 thousand
Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures
Production compaines: Jerkschool Productions
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 104 Rotten: 13
IMDB: 7.0 / 10
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Screenwriter: Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring: Robin Williams as Lance Clayton, Alexie Gilmore as Claire, Daryl Sabara as Kyle, Geoff Pierson as Principal Anderson, Henry Simmons as Mike Lane, Tony V. as Dr. Pentola, Mitzi McCall as Bonnie, Morgan Murphy as Morgan, Naomi Glick as Ginger, Dan Spencer as Dan Spencer, Zach Sanchez as Peter, Evan Martin as Andrew, Ellie Jameson as Jennifer, Michael Thomas Moore as Chris, Ray Mist as Metal Kid, Jermaine Williams as Jason, Lorraine Nicholson as Heather, Krist Novoselic as Newsstand Vendor, Rebecca Erwin Spencer as Nosy Neighbor, Cheri Minns as Nosy Neighbor, Zazu as Nosy Neighbor, Mable Mae as Mabel, Tom kenny as Jerry Klein, Toby Huss as Bert Green, Deborah Horne as Dr. Dana, Bruce Hornsby as Himself, Riley Dean Stone as Bruce Hornsby's Mic Stand, Jill Talley as Make-Up Woman
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