Levi Collins is set to go to the local University on a tennis scholarship, but he forgot to tell his parents one thing — he didn’t graduate. As a result, he must take summer school before his mom and dad discover he’s failed senior science. At school, Levi falls in love with his classmate, Katie, and learns that he has to make a choice between playing tennis and receiving a proper education.
Film informationGenre: Comedy
Tom Morris, the director and screenwriter for the new Indie-comedy General Education, seemed to possibly dip his toe in too deep with this effort. The movie is a ridiculous blend of clichés about high school and fighting the good fight with your parents over what you want to do with your life. Morris directs the film rather well with excellent oversight of the cinematography and editing with Brooks Ludwick and Tyler MacIntyre. There are a couple of promising performances acting wise. Janeane Garofalo is awesome as usual as the alcoholic mother of Levi Collins (Chris Sheffield) but her excellent acting actually just makes the rest pale in comparison that much more.
Levi plays a middle child of a rich family that has received a scholarship to play tennis. This makes his mayor-father very happy because he comes from a long line of tennis superstars. Good old Levi is continuing in the family footsteps. The problem is, Levi doesn’t want to do that but he doesn’t have the guts to tell dad. (Heard this a few times before?)
The script truly goes to inane lengths to try to make this into an interesting story, but it chases its own tail instead. Levi supposedly fails a class but is given the chance to go to summer school to solve the issue and keep the scholarship (for a sport he does not want). Given that Levi is not brave enough to stand up and say what he wants, he comes across as a character that is tough to care about or get behind. He even blindly follows his buddies who are clearly supposed to be slackers and cutups.
The father (played by Larry Miller) is such a flat character that it is tough to figure how the casting must have went. I am unsure, however, how much of this was the acting and how much was the script. Certainly Miller has done better work so I would guess it is the script.
There are parts of this movie that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. For example, Levi breaks into the school with a raccoon costume on and the movie never really bothers to explain why. The character is not the type to do something so out there, so what is the purpose of doing it if it is not simply reaching for laughs?
Characters enter and leave the script never to return and some other parts are never explained as well. One sure sign of problems is when characters are introduced that has no real reason to be there. That is commonly called filler and General Education seems to have more of it than most. There are also moments where characters forget where they have been.
Katie (Maira Walsh) is Levi’s gal in the movie, but there is never very much reason for her to be there either. It is almost as though they put all the clichés up on a board and then added them to the movie one by one. General Education is technically a pretty darn good movie, but it suffers from way too many flaws outside the technicalities.
Although the movie is flawed throughout, it does show a ton of promise on for Tom Morris as a director. Hopefully he will take a step up in the material next time and secure some strong scripts to work with. His eye for the camera is excellent and it seemed totally wasted on this cliché ridden mess.