“Bad Education” (2019)

MOVIE REVIEW: “Bad Education” stars Hugh Jackman (Logan, Prisoners), Allison Janney (The Way Way Back, Juno), Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond [TV series], The Irishman), Welker White (Goodfellas, Morning Glory), Annaleigh Ashford (Masters of Sex [TV series], American Crime Story [TV series]), Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers, Emo the Musical), Rafael Casal (Blindspotting, Are You Afraid of the Dark? [TV mini-series]), Alex Wolff (Hereditary, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Hari Dhillon (Entrapment, Cradle 2 the Grave), Jeremy Shamos (Birdman or [The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance], Magic in the Moonlight), and Stephen Spinella (Ravenous, Virtuosity). It is directed by Cory Finley (Thoroughbreds), with the screenplay being written by Mike Makowsky (I Think We’re Alone Now, Take Me). Based on a true story, this film centers around New York’s Roslyn school district, and how a once-beloved superintendent (Jackman) tries to cover up a money embezzlement scandal.

Cory Finley, director of the odd independent feature Thoroughbreds, returns to the director’s chair once more with HBO’s “Bad Education.” This time, he’s got a league of all-star power. Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, and Ray Romano are apart of a school board in the early 2000’s. What’s more? There’s an embezzlement scheme. Hot diggity dog, we’ve got a drama! (And an award-nominated one at that). Finley’s second directorial piece stacks up better than his first. It’s rich in conflict, bubbling with solid performances, and guided with precision. There’s more to it than just a money scandal; problems are deeply rooted within the school board themselves, which we get to see unravel as the flim progresses. The character Jackman plays, Frank Tassone, is one of his most unique yet. He’s not grizzled, nor is he teeming with masculinity. This is a guy who is drinking low-carb smoothies, applies foundation to his face, and hides a dasterdly secret (for the early 2000’s). I was shocked at the role. Honestly, while Jackman does his darndest to pull it off (and he succeeds), it is difficult to see him in this part because of what he has done in the past. I give him props though. How they handled his character and scandal was graceful, telling it like it is (as I assume that side of Tassone’s life is factual as well) without getting too preachy or visual about it. His issues, along with everyone else’s, are interwoven quite well, all playing to the beat of an awesome score done by Michael Abels. The man’s track “Come Quick,” when the scandal is first discovered, is terrific. Much to Makowsky’s credit (as well as Finley), while there is tense drama to be had, there are also slivers of good humor. I laughed quite a bit in this, mainly at the narcissism of this school board. How they try to save their own rear-ends and put themselves on pedestals as if they don’t have a speck on them. Took me back to my laughs in “Knives Out,” except these people are more recognizable. The over-bearing moms, pompous golfers, and ditsy young staffers. I enjoyed its sense of humor, and found myself laughing until the very end. The tone “Bad Education” establishes feeds into this theme of whether doing the right thing is good if it’ll lead to a lot of harm. Unveiling this scandal would essentially plummet the school system (and its community) into the crapper, putting the futures of its students into question. It’s a toss-up, and someone’s gotta know when to call it. Similar to “Knives Out” (being that I already referenced this film), we have an outsider of the elite who poses a threat. Someone who seeks the truth and is a good person. We know who will win in the end, but the structure of the story kept me engaged throughout the venture. The cinematography is good, the set pieces rock, and the way they capture a school system is spot-on. I enjoy seeing it more so from the faculty perspective than I do the students, given how I never held a school job nor have I watched much entertainment where the angle was enforced (like “Vice Principals” or whatever that one teacher show was on TV Land). From what you can tell by my review thus far, “Bad Education” is a good movie. There are story elements that I didn’t really care for, but for the most part it works. The filmmakers kept me invested and wondering how it would all go down; while that may seem easy to figure out by the middle of the movie, the final scene is a headscratcher. It was certainly an artistic approach that gave way to a character’s psyche, but in terms of it being the last note? You got me. Some could take it or leave it. I mainly just liked the bizarreness of it. As you can tell with this review and my last, I’ve been watching quite a few flicks on HBO recently. If you have the service, I’d recommend you watch “Bad Education” (more so than the former film I reviewed this week, “An American Pickle”). If you don’t, well… bootleg? Or borrow someone’s account. Shouldn’t have suggested bootleg first. FINAL SCORE: 87%= Juicy Popcorn

Here is the trailer:

One response to ““Bad Education” (2019)

  1. Pingback: August Movie Rankings | Juicy Reviews·

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