Assassination of a High School President (2008)
★★ / ★★★★
I’ve read reviews about this film and a number of people think that this will eventually be a cult classic. I highly doubt it. Directed by Brett Simon, “Assassination of a High School President” stars Reece Thompson as Bobby Funke, a high school sophomore journalist with dreams of getting a summer program at Northwestern. Assigned by Melonie Diaz to write about the school’s student body president (Patrick Taylor), Thompson stumbled upon secrets which involved stolen SAT exams. This movie reminded me a lot of the indie gem called “Brick” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It has a certain post-noir feel to it, but the difference between “Brick” and this film is that this one is less complex and not as exemplary when it comes to its style. At times I found myself wondering whether it wanted to be a true modern noir film set in a private Catholic high school or an edgy romantic comedy about a kinda-sorta loser who wanted to date the most popular girl in school (Mischa Barton). That indecision took some of the focus away from the story and so it became less intriguing. However, although the picture wasn’t as provocative as I thought it would be (I imagined “Election”-level snarkiness when it came to the dialogue and desperation of the characters), Thompson’s geek-chic charm made me want to keep watching. I saw him on the underrated “Rocket Science” and was highly impressed so I was interested to see if he could bring the same sort of neuroticism from there to this movie. I must admit that I guessed incorrectly on whoever was really involved in the whole SAT fiasco. But what I liked about it was that there wasn’t really a big twist in the end; there was actually a culmination of hints and evidence that eventually led to the final revelation so I ultimately didn’t feel cheated. If the whole romance angle between Thompson and Barton was completely taken out and Thompson was all business without taking any prisoner, this probably would have been a slam dunk for me. The movie definitely had pop during the investigation scenes but it became lazy and typical during the courtship scenes. This is a pretty decent rental on an uneventful Saturday night because there were some witty dialogue but watching it shouldn’t be a priority.