Sep 11, 2009

[Movies] School of Life (2005)

School of LifeOddly enough, it looks like we're ending this week with a movie review similar to the one we started with - something starring Ryan Reynolds. And both didn't involve gratuitous nudity of any kind. I know, I know, that sounds like a bad thing.

It's interesting to see the range of some actors or alternatively how their film project choices show the evolution of their character preferences or their "role" in the eyes of Hollywood. Ryan Reynolds really became popular because of the hit sitcom Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place and from there he's come a long way to becoming the lead in romantic comedies.

This was a TV movie that aired sometime after Blade Trinity showed the world that Ryan Reynolds was a lot more...physically impressive than during his TV sitcom days, so in some ways it felt a bit odd for him to do this kind of a feel-good family drama.

School of Life was a 2005 TV movie that centers around Fallbrook Middle School where Norman Warner (John Astin) had consistently won the student-voted Teacher of the Year award for 43 years until he died. Now his son Matt Warner (David Paymer) is feeling the pressure of trying to live up to his legacy. Of course at the same time, a young history teacher named Michael D'Angelo ("Mr. D." to his students) joins the faculty and quickly wins the hearts of the student body with his fresh take on teaching and his alternative methods of instruction. Thus Mr. Warner focuses all his efforts on winning the award and finding a chink in the armor of the almost perfect Mr. D.

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 05:  Actor Ryan Reynolds a...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
I know, I know, the premise doesn't sound like much and I pretty much stopped changing channels when I saw Ryan Reynolds on the screen. I was fortunately surprised by how the movie was progressing and thus I ended up sticking around and not changing the channel.

Ryan Reynolds as Mr. D was pretty much an amalgam of all the usual movie antics we see in terms of what theoretically makes teachers popular with students. This means re-arranging the classroom, costumes and trying to learn by experiencing things. In his case, the only way to learn history is to try and reenact some of the events such as the US Civil War. His performance in the movie was a bit low key and not the usual kind of over-the-top funny that he tries to aim for most of the time. It's understandable given naturally there is a "flaw" to Mr. D that Mr. Warner will eventually discover that explains everything.

David Paymer does what he does best - play the part of the try-hard loser. Nothing exceptional there and the eventual turnaround in his teaching style didn't come out all that believable.

As is the case with such family-friendly TV productions, the plot was highly predictable for the most part, but that didn't take away from the message the movie tried to send out and the general warm and fuzzy feeling of the movie. It's really the kind of movie that makes lazy weekends pass by faster but I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to buy a copy of this movie or even rent it. Just wait for it to cycle on TV and enjoy it if you have nothing else to do.

School of Life gets 3 pairs of human lungs out of 5.

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