×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘The Bad Education Movie’

Jack Whitehall's cheerfully lowbrow classroom sitcom makes a scrappy leap to the big screen.

With:
Jack Whitehall, Joanna Scanlan, Iain Glen, Ethan Lawrence, Layton Williams, Kae Alexander, Weruche Opia, Nikki Runeckles, Charlie Wernham, Jack Binstead, Sarah Solemani, Mathew Horne, Jeremy Irvine, Talulah Riley, Clarke Peters, Harry Enfield, Steve Oram, Marc Wootton.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4660980/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt

While one can, at a push, imagine Pedro Almodovar being amused by a gag involving a holy petrified foreskin, there’s otherwise little danger of “The Bad Education Movie” being mistaken for its Spanish namesake in years to come. As scatty as it is scatological, this crudely amusing bigscreen transfer for young comedian Jack Whitehall’s popular, now-defunct BBC sitcom trots out the well-worn jokes inherent in its televisual premise, as a posh dimwit teacher is repeatedly schooled by his adoring class of state-school rascals. It does, however, graft them onto a plot — involving a grassroots political coup in, of all places, Cornwall — more extravagantly daft than a half-hour episode would permit, giving some peppy purpose to an otherwise low-rent cash-in. As for Whitehall, his film debut makes no concessions to the uninitiated, as his trademark mugging ping-pongs cheerily between the endearing and the enervating. 

Where staggering domestic B.O. for 2011’s comparable TV spinoff “The Inbetweeners Movie” proved a degree of crossover appeal exceeding the sitcom’s viewership, first-weekend numbers suggest “The Bad Education Movie” hasn’t broken out beyond its young-skewing fanbase — which should at least serve it well in ancillary. (With ABC having recently passed on a pilot for the show’s American adaptation, prospects outside the U.K. seem modest.) A sequel may be far from a guaranteed prospect, but the pic does establish the elastic-faced Whitehall as a film-anchoring comic presence (and writer) for other, similarly lightweight vehicles.

An Amsterdam-set prologue makes no attempt whatsoever to explain the “Bad Education” setup to viewers unacquainted with its three successful seasons, but it’s easy enough to grasp: Outmatched history teacher Alfie Wickers (Whitehall) struggles to discipline his class on an educational tour to the Anne Frank Museum, before himself becoming the instigator of mayhem (and pratfalling into a dank canal) following an accidental ingestion of magic mushrooms. Such hijinks are business as usual for the seven teens of Class K — somehow one of the smallest in London’s crowded government school system — who are healthily varied in terms of race, sexuality and intellect, but unified in their adherence to blunt cultural stereotype, from the studious Chinese pupil (Kae Alexander) to the sassy gay one (Layton Williams).

The most substantially developed of them is insecure teacher’s pet Joe (Ethan Lawrence, finding a degree of emotional conflict in broad-brush material), whose bullishly overprotective mother Susan (Joanna Scanlan) emerges as Alfie’s chief antagonist. One year after the misbegotten Amsterdam tour, she appoints herself the stern class chaperone on a weekend trip to Cornwall, replacing Alfie’s planned agenda of pubs and house parties with a granola itinerary of historical castles and environmental centers. (Generous location shooting reps the most notable feature of an otherwise no-frills tech package.) In his attempt to escape her vindictive surveillance — and for reasons best not explained or considered — Alfie winds up being mistaken for a member of the self-styled “Cornish Liberation Army,” whose grizzled leader Pasco (Iain Glen, gamely gurning) has a violent uprising in mind.

Things get sillier still from there, while viewers can choose to what degree they wish to be offended by punchlines at the expense of the disabled, the rural or, simply, the female. (“Mumsnet have put down their massive glasses of white wine and picked up their pitchforks,” Alfie says in response to news of mothers’ complaints.) Yet stray moments of class-conscious humanity surface amid the parade of one-legged strippers, diarrhea strikes and testicle-snapping swans. There’s a touching undertow, in particular, to an extended setpiece in which Alfie is reunited with a tuxedoed gang of his former public-school chums, led by Jeremy Irvine in a sneering cameo. The hapless teacher’s jovial recollections of laddish mischief turn out to be mere fabulism, denying his lowly place on the social totem pole: The man-child becomes simply the child.

Whitehall jumps into the proceedings with baying gusto, encapsulating the character’s balance of can-do spirit and cotton-brained idiocy in a climactic speech that welds together quotations from “Braveheart,” “300” and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini. For those who find his puppyish hyperactivity wearying, Scanlan is a wily comic foil — and, considering how much unseen punishment the script piles on her nether regions, a jolly good sport.

Film Review: 'The Bad Education Movie'

Reviewed at Cineworld Haymarket, London, Aug. 23, 2015. Running time: 90 MIN.

Production: (U.K.) An Entertainment Film Distributors release (in U.K.) of a Cave Bear Prods., Tiger Aspect Prods. production. (International sales: Tiger Aspect, London.) Produced by Ben Cavey, Pippa Brown. Executive producers, Nigel Green, Trevor Green, Bella Wright, Helen Wright, Jack Whitehall. Co-producer, Sarada McDermott.

Crew: Directed by Elliot Hegarty. Screenplay, Jack Whitehall, Freddy Syborn, based on Whitehall's television series "Bad Education." Camera (color, HD), Pete Rowe; editor, Peter H. Oliver; music, Vince Pope; production designer, Simon Rogers; art director, Thorin Thompson; set decorator, Tom Rea; costume designer, Claire Finlay-Thompson; sound, Nigel Albermaniche; supervising sound editor, Antony Bayman; re-recording mixer, Bayman; visual effects supervisor, Dave Sewell; visual effects, Double Negative; stunt coordinators, Steve Truglia, Tom Lucy, Paul Kennington; line producers, Ohna Falby, Nicola Morrow; assistant director, Ursula Haworth; second unit director, Ben Cavey; second unit camera, Jeremy Hewson; casting, Sarah Crowe.

With: Jack Whitehall, Joanna Scanlan, Iain Glen, Ethan Lawrence, Layton Williams, Kae Alexander, Weruche Opia, Nikki Runeckles, Charlie Wernham, Jack Binstead, Sarah Solemani, Mathew Horne, Jeremy Irvine, Talulah Riley, Clarke Peters, Harry Enfield, Steve Oram, Marc Wootton.

More Film

  • A Womans Work-The NFLs Cheerleader Problem

    Tribeca Documentaries Explore Gender Issues in Sport

    Up until recently, what it meant to be a professional female athlete in a world dominated by men wasn’t an issue that garnered high volumes of public interest, let alone national headlines. But that all changed in October 2017 when stories from the New York Times and the New Yorker detailing sexual allegations and improper [...]

  • Lizzo Coachella Valley Music and Arts

    Lizzo Joins Cardi B and Jennifer Lopez in Stripper Film 'Hustlers'

    After the release of her third album and a pair of high-profile Coachella performances, Lizzo announced today that she will be joining Cardi B and Jennifer Lopez in the stripper-themed film “Hustlers.” Based on a true story, the film focuses on strippers who band together to turn the tables on their wealthy Wall Street male [...]

  • Ralph Fiennes attends a special screening

    Ralph Fiennes on Directing Rudolf Nureyev Biopic: 'It's Been a Very, Very Long Road'

    Ralph Fiennes celebrated his latest directorial outing, “The White Crow,” on Monday night in New York City. The Sony Pictures Classics film tells the story of legendary dancer Rudolf Nureyev. “It’s been a very, very long road. We were mad. We were mad to take on this subject of Rudolf Nureyev. Mad. Completely mad,” Fiennes [...]

  • Marc Malkin The Big Ticket Podcast

    Variety, iHeartMedia Launch New Film Podcast 'The Big Ticket' With Marc Malkin

    Variety and iHeartMedia have announced the premiere of “The Big Ticket,” a new weekly film-focused podcast hosted by Marc Malkin, the magazine’s senior film awards and events & lifestyle editor. The podcast will feature sit-down interviews with Hollywood’s hottest stars and filmmakers talking movies, the business and more. New episodes will be released every Thursday [...]

  • 2019 Box Office Placeholder

    Can 'Avengers: Endgame,' 'Lion King' and Other Summer Movies Rescue the Box Office?

    In the summer, as temperatures rise and schools go on break, Hollywood likes to stick to a well-worn formula: Pack the multiplexes with franchises, spinoffs, reboots and remakes. This coming season will be no different — with hopes that the pay off at the box office will help reverse the current turndown in ticket sales. [...]

  • Cameron Crowe, David Crosby in Park

    Cameron Crowe on Putting 'the Most Colorful Life Ever,' David Crosby's, on Screen

    Cameron Crowe jokes that David Crosby is following his career path. The star’s frankness and tell-it-like-it-is demeanor has resulted in Rolling Stone magazine’s invitation to set up the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s next act as a rock Dear Abby of sorts with his new column: “Ask Croz.” “Isn’t that great?” says Crowe, the Oscar-winning [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame' Full Movie Hits Piracy Networks (Report)

    Disney/Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame,” poised to be the hugest movie opening in history, has hit piracy networks — two days before its U.S. premiere — with a copy evidently recorded in a Chinese movie theater now circulating online, according to a published report. Users in China began sharing a 1.2-gigabyte file of “Avengers: Endgame” on peer-to-peer [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content