Billy Bob Thorton has given us another fun, if somewhat brutal, comedy. Jon Heder and Thorton star in School for Scoundrels where a young loser finds the courage and self-esteem to stand-up for himself, even to his teacher who has his own plans for the loser’s girl.
School for Scoundrels
3 & 1/2 Stars
I’m not a huge Jon Heder fan, but I think Billy Bob Thornton is great. School for Scoundrels puts both in situations to do what they do well. Thornton plays a mean-spirited but humorous creep, and Heder takes another turn as the lovable loser. Add to that some very good physical humor and some off the wall humor and you’ve got a good, if not great, fall comedy on your hands.
Roger (Jon Heder) is a loser. By day he is abused by fellow workers and law breakers in his job as a meter-maid. By night Roger pines for his neighbor, a sweet girl named Amanda (Jacinda Barrett) whose roommate (Sarah Silverman) is as sarcastic as Amanda is nice.
Unable to express his feelings to the woman he loves Roger decides to join a secret confidence building course run by the unscrupulous Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton). There he meets other losers like himself (Todd Louiso, Horatio Sanz, Matt Walsh, Jon Glaser, Leonard Earl Howse) and for the first time begins to feel a part of something.
Roger’s success in the class has some dire consequences. Dr. P decides to challenge Roger and make a move on Amanda, using every dirty trick imaginable. Roger is forced to either tell the truth or beat his professor at his own game.
The film is full of gags and some increasingly brutal humor. It doesn’t have the balls to go for the big laughs Thornton got in Bad Santa, but it is consistently funny throughout.
The supporting cast, stolen mostly from former SNL casts, does well. Silverman plays her typical bitch on wheels and is a little too shrill for me here. If she’s serious about giving acting a chance I’d like to see her branch out a little more. There are two cameo roles that stand out, Ben Stiller and David Cross, who are so good you wonder why the script couldn’t fit them into the plot more.
It’s a fine comedy that won’t bore you. It doesn’t have the huge belly laughs you would expect from this material, but it is consistantly funny throughout. If guy humor, men getting shot in the crotch with paint guns, and losers trying pitifully to impress women sound like your thing, you should enjoy yourself. It’s well worth the price of admission.