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Detention: The Biggest WTF Movie....Maybe Ever
Director: Joseph Kahn
Cast: Shanley Caswell, Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook, Spencer Locke, James Black, Alison Woods
“If your face hurts my fist, I'm gonna punch harder.”
– – dialogue from Detention.
You've heard of movies being accused of throwing in everything and the kitchen sink, yes? Well, Detention throws in the kitchen sink, acid vomit, a super magnetic stuffed grizzly bear which also doubles as a time machine, a school jock who is part fly and who had to wear a TV on his hand as a child, alien abductions from beings who are part vegetable, jokes about a young man's glowing semen, a mother and daughter who switch bodies, exploding dogs, a plot about the world ending nine minutes from now twenty years ago (please don't ask), as well as a psycho killer who's dresses up like the villain Cinderhella from a popular slasher series. I'm really not sure what to make of Detention. On the one hand, the movie is smug and gratingly obnoxious. On the other hand, it is so fascinatingly bizarre that it keeps you intrigued to see what nutty place it chooses to go to next.
It is around this point where I am supposed to write a synopsis on a movie, but I'm not sure I know where to start with this film. The movie opens up with high school girl Taylor Fisher (Alison Woods), who proudly describes herself as a “bitch” (which stands for Beauty, Intelligence, Talent, Charisma, Hoobastank), and is mercifully killed off by the Cinderhella slasher in the very first scene. We then cut to semi-suicidal outcast Riley Jones (Shanley Caswell), who tries to hang herself when the skate boarding dream boat she's been drooling over (Josh Hutcherson's Clapton Davis) falls for her two timing ex friend Ione (Spencer Locke), but finds a reason to live when Cinderhella tries to make her his next victim (don't even ask). When someone rips off Riley's shirt at a party, exposing her nipple for seven seconds, someone records it and puts the video on the web, something that angers the school principal (Dane Cook) because that was the party where Fly Jock was bumped off by Cinderhella. She and others at the party are sentenced to a full day of detention on a Saturday, and it is there where the group discovers that the killer is among them. It could be Ione, the Goth Chick, the Bored Black Guy, or the Mysterious Hooded Figure Who Has Been in Detention For the Last Nineteen Years. It is here where they learn the killer plans to travel back to 1992 to blow up the school and....oh, just forget it!
Some of you who read that synopsis might be inspired to see it now. It's a deliberately nutty film that tries very hard to be outlandish and weird, and there is some charm to see that effort on the screen. On the other hand, the movie isn't as funny as it seems to think it is. There are many, many, many references to the '80s and '90s, including a hilariously bad rendition of Hanson's “mmmBop,” as well as one character noting moralistic similarities between the Cinderhella films with the 1997 disaster pic Volcano. Skater dude Clapton is bullied by the much more physically imposing Fly Jock on a number of occasions, and feels like he may have a chance to beat him by studying Roadhouse and channeling “the power of Swayze.” Clapton admits that one of the things he likes about Ione is that she knows the lyrics to Sting's “Fields of Gold.” Some of this is good for a few chuckles, but most of the time it comes across as forced and desperate. For the full 93 minutes the movie plays out, Detention tries way, way, WAY too hard to be quirky and cool, and most of the time ends up being anything but that (note the scene where Riley tries to hang herself, which doesn't elicit so much as a chuckle).
And yet, doggoneit, I can not hate this film. When the end credits finally began to roll, I said to myself, “that movie was so stupid.” And yet, when I started to write this review and began looking back on it in retrospect, I couldn't help but smile. I'd say that that would qualify Detention as a so-bad-it's-entertaining sort of film. I can not in good conscience recommend the film, but if there is any part of you that is even remotely curious about it, then give it a go. Heck, I might see it again myself just for grins and tickles.
Final Grade: ** 1/2 (out of ****)