Sunday, May 11, 2014

Movie #253: High School High

High School High is a 1996 spoof of movies like Dangerous Minds, Lean On Me, and basically any movie with a white person trying to educate poor kids. It stars Jon Lovitz, Tia Carrere, Louise Fletcher, Mekhi Phifer, Malinda Williams, Guillermo Diaz, and it's completely fucking terrible.

Richard Clark (Lovitz) is the son of a famous educator at Wellington Academy (where the operator asks "Are you white?" when folks call before she connects them). All he wants, though, is to make a difference in the lives of young folks, so he takes a job at Marion Barry High School. It's in the inner city. You know because it's labeled "INNER CITY" and all the radio stations change to gangsta rap as soon as he drives in.

He does his best to teach, but the kids aren't having it. He tries to make friends with a popular former gang member named Griff (Phifer) and his dark, poetic paramour Natalie (Williams), but the principal of the school (Fletcher) sees these kids as a lost cause, and there's a former student-turned-gang-leader (Diaz) trying to sell drugs and stuff.

So eventually he manages to turn things around with Griff's help (turns out Griff's dream is to go to college) and with the support of the principal's secretary (Carrere). But augh! The principal is really the drug dealer in charge, and works to make sure all the kids fail the proficiency test because...then they'll do more drugs? I don't know. Of the reasons why this movie is terrible, the nonsensical plot is pretty low on the list.

OK, the one and only think I can say in this movie's defense is that at least, for the most part, it keeps its sources focused. One of the reasons I hate the "Movie" genre of spoofs is that they just ape everything, even if it has no bearing on the genre they're spoofing. This movie injects a bit from Deerhunter for some stupid reason, but otherwise it stays pretty true to its sources.

But really. This movie isn't a satire of inner city education, or even of the "white people swoop in and solve the problem," which is a subject ripe for satire. This movie is racist and misogynist to the nines. All of the jokes are fish-out-of-water jokes about Lovitz, but all within the context of "sheltered white guy reacting in horror at how things are in the inner city." The fashion and culture of urban black youth (of the 90s) as seen through Hollywood white-guy lens make up the rest of the jokes. You've got dudes hopping up stairs and falling because their pants are too low (get it?). You've got two black kids dancing in a manner that is suggestive of fucking (get it?). You've got kids with funny names like "Anferny" (get it?). And then Tia Carrere gets repeatedly beat up and threatened with rape. Because that's funny somehow.

I have no idea why this movie is on my shelf, but it's not there anymore.

My grade: F
Rewatch value: IINSIAIFWT

Next up: Highlander