(Originally Posted 5/26/11)
Hello and welcome to anyone who may be reading this. My name is Kristen Dowd, but everyone calls me Kris or Kristen D. I’m a New Yorker in her mid 20’s, who dreams of becoming a screenwriter. I also happen to be a smart ass who watches/listens to “weird” things constantly and who seems to think she has a knack for making people laugh. Here you will find my various thoughts on things such as movies, TV shows, music and videogames. Hopefully you’ll leave my space entertained. So without further ado, my first review:
A Review by Kristen Dowd
Jim Belushi stars as Rick Latimer; a divorced motorcycle riding teacher with a bad temper. The film opens with Rick sitting in a bar, getting plastered. He spots his ex-wife and her divorce attorney together, making out. Rick speculates she cheated on him with the attorney and goes apeshit. Chasing the guy outside with a bat he apparently pulled out of his ass and beats the holy hell out of the attorney’s car before being dragged away by the cops. Rick goes before the school board the next morning expecting to be fired, but instead ends up being reassigned to be the Principal of Brandell, a violent school in the city’s ghetto. He isn’t happy with the news to say the least, but has no choice.
Rick promptly goes home to kill himself, but realizes he’s all out of Thallium
Brandell is dark and deary, a complete 180 from the bright and colorful scheme of Rick’s former suburban surroundings; it just reads hopelessness. Not even five minutes on the job and Rick has to break up an epic car chase on school grounds. But the bright side is the bitchin’ 80’s drug movie music playing over the scene. Rick tosses the riffraff and goes to inspect the building. The teachers are all hiding in the lounge, scared out of their minds. They have to put up with not only violence, but kids who don’t want to listen, or who just don’t have the skills to learn. Latimer tries to give everyone a pep talk while ushering them back to class, just so he can hide in his own office.
Rick is reluctant to leave his office until the head of school security, Jake (Louis Gossett Jr.) finds him reading Job ads and lets him know there are other people who have it worse than he ever could. Raymi (Esai Morales) is a talented writer hiding from bullies. Arturo (Jacob Vargas) is a shy illiterate boy who wants to better himself and takes tutoring from his teacher, Ms. Orozco (Rae Dawn Chong). She’s the only teacher who tries her best to reach all of her students, and has a special bond with Arturo. Rick realizes what a shit hole the school really is and decides to step up. He calls a school assembly to let everyone know that a change is gonna come. There, he is confronted by Brandell’s drug kingpin, Victor Duncan (Michael Wright), who with one word clears out the room.
Come on, that’s pretty bad ass
Rick and Victor go back and to forth, trying to intimidate one another. Rick tries to reason with him at first, but Victor isn’t having it and blows him off. Later, in an attempt to reach out and save a soul, Rick goes to the home of a student he caught selling drugs in the bathroom. Seeing that she has a child, Rick offers to teach her so that she has a chance to escape that way of life. All this leads to is her setting him up and Victor having his boys jump Rick and wreck his bike.
Arturo, Raymi and some of the body shop kids fix up Rick’s bike, even slapping on a custom decal for added effect. Rick rides off to stick his bat up Victor’s ass. He finds him in the middle of a drug deal, and beats the shit out of everyone around. Victor pulls a gun, but decides shooting a principal in front of the entire student body wouldn’t be too smart, and takes off instead. Victor is almost a likeable villain. He’s actually rather smart and funny; I felt bad for him through most of the film. He’s just a street kid trying to make it day to day. But at the same time he poisons his peers and tries to bring others down with him. I can’t get behind someone like that for very long.
What sayeth thou, White Zac?
After White Zac (another wayward student) tries to rape Ms. Orozco and Emile (a kid who bullies because he’s angry at the world) is nearly killed for leaving Victor’s gang, Rick decides it’s time to end it once and for all. The final showdown takes place in the shower stalls (I assure you, there was no Belushi dong). Of course it isn’t a fair fight, Victor has a gun and his lackey JoJo has a knife to Rick’s neck. JoJo realizes that things have gone way too far when Victor orders him to kill Rick, and walks away. He catches a bullet in the brain for his troubles. Victor is about to blow away Rick when Arturo comes to the rescue and beats Victor about the head and shoulders with a bat.
What is with this movie and bats? Was that just an 80’s thing? Anyway fisticuffs ensue between Rick and Victor, with Victor getting the upper hand at first. Then Rick turns the tables and beats him into submission, shaming him in front of the students. The police cart Victor off and the movie ends with Rick getting heckled. Arturo tells the guy to shut the fuck up because he’s the Principal and he can do whatever he wants! Well he didn’t say it like that, but you get my meaning.
Whole thing has been a subliminal Soul Glo commercial
This is a silly movie, it really is. Unrealistic dialog, shoddy editing in places, odd sound effects; it’s far from perfect. And that’s what I love about it. It takes me back to my days in high school and reminds me of how bad my life could have turned out had I not taken the high road. It isn’t all that serious of a movie, even with attempted rape. It isn’t on the same level with Lean On Me or even Higher Learning with its message, but that aside, it’s still a very enjoyable and quotable movie. I would recommend seeing it at least once in your lifetime, preferably with friends as it’s wonderful riffing fodder.