Written by Ian Brennan, Leigh Whannell, and Josh C. Waller
Directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion
Genre movies can have problems. When a filmmaker loves a genre so much, and they make a film under that umbrella, they often become derivative without bringing anything new to the table. No kind of film is guilty of this more, in my opinion than zombie movies. American zombie movies look to Night of the Living Dead and now in the 21st century, 28 Days Later, and just mimic what they see there. Each film has some sort of unique hook but inevitably breaks down into predictable pablum that we’ve seen playing out dozens of times before. Cooties starts with promise but does down that same disappointing path.
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School of Rock (2003)
Written by Mike White
Directed by Richard Linklater
School of Rock is a film I’ve always found okay. I saw it in the theater during its theatrical run, amid Jack Black’s golden era in movies. He’s still around, but this was back when Tenacious D was being played on repeat in dorm rooms, and High Fidelity was oft-quoted. This marks a transition moment for the actor, going from raunchier fare (Orange County, Shallow Hal) to more family-friendly pictures. It’s a very smart career move, and the script seems tailor-made for Black’s specific persona.
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Written by Nicholas Kazan & Robin Swicord
Directed by Danny DeVito
Roald Dahl has always been one of my most favorite children’s authors ever since I had first Charlie and the Chocolate Factory read to me. Dahl has an incredible nastiness in his writing that appeals to kids, he reveals the truth of the world, mainly that adults are often gluttonous buffoons. There are also monstrous children, usually offshoots of their rotten parents. The child protagonists on Dahl’s work are overwhelmed by these abrasive forces but typically find a source of internal strength to overcome them and triumph. Matilda is one of the most archetypal Dahl heroes, and her story is very much centered in a nuanced examination of the education system.
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Billy Madison (1995)
Written by Adam Sandler & Tim Herlihy
Directed by Tamra Davis
I loved this movie when I was 14-18 years old. It had been almost two decades since I last watched it, and I was wondering if it would hold up. The Adam Sandler presented on movie screens then was very different from the version of him we get now. Most of the time, you get Sandler in an adult/parent version of his old persona, more cooly disaffected and still yelling a lot. Other times you get a performance that challenges your preconceived notions of him (Punch-Drunk Love, Uncut Gems). But this was the baby Sandler, fresh off of Saturday Night Live and playing a particular Generation X comedy schtick.
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Kindergarten Cop (1990)
Written by Murray Salem, Herschel Weingrod, and Timothy Harris
Directed by Ivan Reitman
I am an elementary school teacher. Recently, I began thinking about the way my particular pocket of education is portrayed in film. You can find lots of movies about high schools and teenagers, but what does Hollywood say about the younger kids and their teachers. So, while we are trapped inside avoiding the vile corona, I will be watching about half a dozen movies that touch on elementary school, reviewing them as films and then analyzing them as a teacher. To kick things off, we have the oft memed Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle Kindergarten Cop.
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