General Education (2012) – By Duane L. Martin

Levi Collins (Chris Sheffield) plays tennis. So does his older brother Brian (Bobby Campo). Neither of them even wanted to play tennis, but their father Rich (Larry Miller), the local mayor, pushed them into it. Now Levi is up for a full scholarship from the university his father went to. All he has to do is to win a local tennis tournament against a total douche bag named Chad (Tom Maden). Unfortunately, he has one other problem. He was late to present his final science project, and the teacher failed him because he didn’t show up on time with it. Now he has to attend summer school and pass his science class there (which is being taught by the same teacher), all while keeping it from his parents and trying to find a way to tell his father once and for all that he doesn’t want to play tennis.

As soon as this film was over, I knew exactly how I was going to describe it in the review. Redd Foxx once joked during his stand up act that his wife was a terrible cook, and that her food was so bland, you burp afterward and it don’t taste like nothin’. That’s this film in a nutshell. I watched it, and then I sat there feeling like I’d just sat through a flavorless burp. Why? Well, I’ve given that a lot of thought, and I came to the conclusion that the story just wasn’t interesting, or all that entertaining. The cast and their performances were just fine, and the characters in the film all had the potential to be interesting, but they just weren’t, which sucks, because there’s a lot of fun characters in this film that they could have had a lot more fun with if they’d have been put into the proper framework of a story. As it is, the story in this film just feels like a weak regurgitation of a story we’ve seen a thousand times in other films. Unpleasant? No. Unoriginal? Yes.

Again, thinking back on it, I think the two big problems with this film were that there were shortcuts taken with the story, which left out a lot of the conflict/resolution tension that could have been present, and there was also a lack of exploitation of the potential of the various side characters to play a greater role in the film. For example, Chad, Levi’s nemesis in the film, really just comes off as sort of an awkward douche bag rather than someone who causes him real problems that Levi would have a difficult time resolving. He has a variety of friends, a sister he loves, and a 13 year old sidekick he protects who basically does anything he says. None of these characters are used to even a portion of their potential. If they had been allowed to stretch out into the story more, it would have greatly enhanced the fun and entertainment value of this film. As it is, they’re just sort of there, and after watching it, I honestly can’t remember anyone’s name except for the main character, and that was only because he was the main character and he had a rather unique name.

For special features, the release includes audio commentary with the director, producers and the sound editor, outtakes, a making of featurette and the original theatrical trailer.

Is this a film worth seeing? It’s ok, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it. If it was around and I was bored and I was looking for something to watch that I didn’t have to pay much attention to, I guess it’d be ok. There are WAY better school comedies out there though if that’s what you’re in the mood for.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its page on the Well Go USA website here, and if you’d like to pick up a copy of the DVD or blu-ray for yourself, you can get it from Amazon, or from any of the other usual outlets.