In the extras, Eva Longoria Parker calls Lower Learning a classic movie that gets funnier every time you watch it. While so far I have to agree with her that it gets funnier with each viewing, Im going to have to take some offense to the “classic” label. Classics are movies that can be viewed 30 years later and still be funny to people who weren’t even born when the movie was made.
Caddyshack is a classic. Animal House is a classic. Lower Learning is not a classic and I don’t think it’s going to have the staying power to get there.
There are a couple stories twisting their way through the movie, but the main plot line in the film is Jason Biggs as a Vice Principal trying to save his school from getting shut down. Rob Corddry is the Principal, desperately wanting the school to get shut down because it will make him a millionaire (and hence the film’s villain). Eva’s character is an inspector who is sent in to give the school a failing mark and get it shut down, although she quickly joins Biggs’ side in trying to save the school. Her character has some “issues” that pop up throughout the movie.
Then there are the kids stories. One set of third graders think that they’re pregnant which ends up with me thinking to myself “A dingo ate your baby” every time. And then there are the other stories of love and mistrust and silliness among school children.
I’m not sure it was supposed to, but this movie is reminiscent of Wet, Hot, American Summer. It’s got loads of silly, random little jokes, and a lot of kids dealing with problems way above their age bracket. It’s got the awkward adult relationship, and the teacher who just went through a divorce and has the kids to help her through it (although this teacher is a little angrier and negative). It makes for funnier lines, but takes away from the humor of the situation at large.
Overall the story is pretty good. There are enough extra stories to give the movie good depth. There are plenty of quick one-liners to get you laughing a few times. But it’s got a false ending that takes away from the last 10 minutes of the movie. This kind of film needs to end with one big climax where everything gets resolved and everything is better. This one has two. You get all fired up and emotionally involved in the first one and it ends and you think that everything is better and youre happy. Then the second one comes about and your left a little lifeless from the first one.
The filmmaking and the shot selection are all pretty good for a first time director. The one thing I noticed was a video problem right away. There is a double light glitch when the car turns into the parking lot. There are the headlights on the car, and then they reflect on the camera lens and float in the air a couple feet above the lights on the car. It’s a little thing that I didn’t notice until the second time through, so it’s nothing that detracts from the movie.
Lower Learning is presented in 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and Dolby Digital 5.1. The audio is really low in some places. I had to double the level I usually use on the TV and it still came out low in a few places. The video is fine except for the one little glitch in the early going.
14 Minutes of behind the scenes stuff. Nothing special.
26 Minutes of Deleted and Extended scenes. Some of which I’m very thankful got cut, some were actually pretty good.
A Trailer for the Movie.
Lots of little laughs. For teachers it’s probably more of a horror movie than a comedy, but for the rest of us, it’s pretty good. Certainly not the worst movie you’ll see. I actually recommend it.
Starz Media Presents Lower Learning. Directed by Mark Lafferty. Starring Jason Biggs, Eva Longoria Parker, and Rob Corddry. Written by Mark Lafferty. Running time: 97 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: December 2nd, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.