Assassination of a High School President (R)
IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; Sony Pictures; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
From the very beginning, and throughout the film, there is a voiceover narrative in the tradition of hard-boiled private eyes, but in this case it comes from a high school sophomore named Bobby Funke, who writes for the school paper. Sort of; he's never actually finished an article. But the editor, Clara, gives him an assignment to write a profile of the class president, Paul Moore. Soon after that, the school's SATs are stolen, and Paul's girlfriend, Francesca, wants Bobby to figure out who took them. His investigation leads him to believe it was Paul, and he writes a story about it that makes him suddenly popular... with most of the school, including Francesca. There are still those who pick on him, including Paul's friends on the Student Council, led by a guy named Marlon, who becomes the new president. Bobby starts dating Francesca, so for the most part, life is good. But Bobby soon learns that Paul was probably innocent, and spends the rest of the movie trying to figure out who was really responsible for the theft. In the process, he uncovers some much shadier stuff than just stolen SATs.
I don't really want to say any more about the plot. I'll say that early on, I thought Bobby's narration sounded just ridiculous, but eventually, it started sounding better. It could still be silly at times, but sometimes it was serious. The weird thing is it seemed like he always thought it was serious, himself. I'll also say I had trouble following all the different characters. But there were some kids who were vaguely friends of Bobby's, like outcasts or whatever, though early on I thought they were just more enemies. (The only one of them whose name I caught was a girl named Landis.) So whatever, I never remembered most characters' names or faces or social roles or anything. And there were some kids who were just pretty random, minor characters, like Eye Patch Girl (though I still liked her, and probably all the characters, however minor, were important to the plot in some way). I should also mention only two actors in the movie were familiar to me. One was Bruce Willis as Principal Kirkpatrick, who was basically just obsessed with talking about his time fighting in Desert Storm, and punishing Bobby for chewing gum. Though of course he also wanted to find out about the stolen SATs. The only other actor I knew was Mischa Barton (from The O.C.), who played Francesca.
Anyway... I was thinking of putting my review under "weird," but I suppose it's technically film noir, even if it feels more like a parody of the genre. It did have a lot of nice touches, even if they were kind of strange, like the occasional calls Bobby would receive from some fact-checker from Northwestern, where he was supposed to get a scholarship or something. The calls made little sense, but they did have a noir feel to them, I guess. And I did like the final line, which I immediately knew was a Chinatown reference, even though I hadn't yet seen that movie, when I watched this. And Bobby's frequent failure to get his driver's license became important, eventually. So, whatever, the movie was kind of amusing and kind of serious and kind of interesting and kind of clever and kind of ridiculous.
...Though whenever Bobby used Paul's little sister to get information, I couldn't help worrying someone would accuse him of... um... I'm just saying, it doesn't look good, a high school boy bribing an 11 or 12-year-old girl with stuffed unicorns.