Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (7)
| Top Critics (3)
| Fresh (5)
| Rotten (2)
"Adventures in Public School" isn't for everyone. But this oddball high school comedy from director Kyle Rideout has a distinct voice and a wry sense of humor that sets it apart from the standard teen film.
The writing and direction of Public Schooled put a bright spin on high-school antics, and the ace cast makes the grade, led by Judy Greer's long-proven down-to-earth magic and the deft physical comedy of Daniel Doheny.
Greer proves a resourceful comedienne, as usual, and a colorful array of supporting characters are nicely turned. The film's biggest single asset, however, is newcomer Doheny ...
Comedy about awkward teen and his mom; cursing, sex, drugs.
Tries WAY too hard to be "the dirtiest teen movie" on Netflix.
If this Canadian comedy had a report card, it would contain an A for enthusiasm, a B-minus for creative writing and a D in chemistry. It's trying hard, but the pieces don't quite come together.
Grace Park and Andrea Bang steal every one of their scenes as a mother-child pairing even odder than Greer and Doheny, and Andrew McNee is a stealthy delight as Liam's officious, easily distracted principal.
So homeschooling is a thing that is allowed. I've always been a proponent that, if you're not teaching your kid to be a hateful bigot, that parents should raise kids the way they want. As mentioned, this is within reason. If you're raising your kid to be an asshole, then you're just doing it wrong and should have your kids taken away. Sometimes, these tactics are taken to the extreme by certain parents who, perhaps rightfully or wrongfully, believe that they will teach their own children everything they need to know. Now, I'm not saying that, inherently, all homeschooling is bad, because there could be cases like Liam's, where he knows more than most of his teachers at the school anyway. But the reality is that a big chunk of parents who homeschool their children end up doing so because they're ultra-religious and, they feel, that exposure to the public school system will open them up to 'liberal' ideas and concepts and they just won't allow that. Which is just absurd and ridiculous. Firstly, you're stifling and oppressing these kids, you're not letting them learn at their own pace and you're not letting them gather their own life experiences. Not only that, but it's also unhealthy in that kids, particularly teens, need to be able to interact with other kids their age. This creates an issue where these kids, when pushed into the 'real' world, they don't know how to react because they've never been faced with those situations before. You have to take it case by case, but, really, this form of extreme (and religious) homeschooling should be considered a form of psychological and emotional abuse. I have to repeat myself but, again, I'm certain that there's parents that do a great job homeschooling their kids, but I just don't think it's healthy for the emotional development of your child. While this movie has a more lighthearted and crowd-pleasing approach, I think it does do a decent job at looking at the relationship between a mother and son when that son has, essentially, spent his entire life under his mother's wing as it were. Not being able to interact with and become friends with kids his own age. You know, watching this movie and Liam's relationship with Claire, his mother, very much reminded me of Buster and Lucille's relationship in Arrested Development. Buster wasn't homeschooled, Lucille cared too little for that, but he's the very definition of a mama's boy. Their relationship is disturbingly funny at times and, in some ways, that was the case here. Though, in this case, it's not necessarily played so much for laughs as just the fact that Claire struggles to let her son do his own thing and become his own man. I find this interesting, because you get to think as to how Claire got to be this way. Liam's dad is never a part of the narrative or Liam's life, but I'm under the assumption that he left just shortly afterwards Liam was born and that abandonment led to her raising Liam the way she has. It's interesting that there's a deeper angle to explore here that the movie, basically, leaves up to you to figure it out or theorize as to what happened. I think that's cool because, again, they never draw attention to it, you just come up with it on your own. Regardless, Liam decides he wants the experience of being in public school after he becomes enamored with this girl, who happens to have one leg. Again, this also allows him to interact with people his own age and become friends with them, hopefully. The movie, in spite of what some might see as indie quirk, works in large part due to Daniel Donehy, who's quite good, and Judy Greer. They do a good job at playing the mother-son role. Claire attempts to control Liam's life but, in a way, I feel that she means well and isn't doing so out of malice. She attempts to teach him about everything he can and she wants to do everything with him. When she notices that Liam is rebelling, by literally doing stuff that no other reasonable parent would even think to get mad about, she attempts to teach him how to properly rebel. Even when Liam is rebelling, she has to have a hand in it and how he rebels. Daniel Donehy does a great job here at playing this really socially awkward and shy teen that's just trying to get a sense of normalcy. There's a scene where Claire teaches him to curse and Daniel's reaction to this really is like a little kid who has just cursed in front of his/her parent for the first time and it is pretty great. I don't think a lot of actors could pull that off effectively, but I think Daniel's gives a naively innocent performance to where it just works. Regardless, one of the more important plot points is the fact that Liam is take this girl's place for the week (due to sickness), this girl's name is Maria. And, eventually, since Liam is taking all of Maria's classes, everyone just starts calling him Maria, even the teachers. It's not only just a running gag, but it actually ends up serving the overall narrative. But, in my opinion, one of the funniest bits in the entire movie is when the real Maria Sanchez dies, everyone around Liam starts looking at him sadly and treating him nicely for the first time, teachers walk up to him and they cry, silly shit like that, as if, for this one moment, he was actually Maria herself. It sounds silly writing it, but it works extremely well in execution. Naturally, the school computer database being a mess, it turns out that Maria really didn't die after all and she was just part of a student exchange program. Like, how they got from student exchange program to a brain or lung disease (no one ever seems entirely sure as to what she had) to her DEATH is beyond me, but it was funny regardless. And that's the thing about this movie. I like the fact that it has a genuine and heartfelt story, but it's also a surprisingly funny movie. I don't know why I was surprised, but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It's not like this is hilarious, but I found this to be a consistently funny and entertaining movie. I honestly wish we got more of Autumn, who's Claire's friend's daughter, and how fucking strange she was. She, in my opinion, has some of the funniest moments in the entire movie and she's just a memorable minor character. Another thing about the movie that I liked is how the movie doesn't give you the ending you expect, with Liam finally winning over Anastasia (the girl that inspired him to go to public school anyway), it gives you a completely different ending where, eventually, Liam (seemingly) ends up with Maria, the girl whose identity he assumed for a week. It's a nice way to bring everything full circle and, at the same time, while not being the original 'endgame' for Liam, is still a satisfying conclusion to Liam's arc, given that, in a way, he and Maria were connected right from the very start. It's not a random girl he meets that wasn't relevant to the story, Maria is the very reason Liam was able to get into public school anyway. So, again, while not what you expect, but a really good and satisfying ending regardless. And, as a whole, while I don't think I would say this is a very good movie, I was really happy to have watched this. I enjoyed myself quite a bit with this movie. It's not perfect, but it's well-written, incredibly well-cast and, most of all, entertaining from beginning to end. This is an easy recommendation from me, this is just a good movie to watch if you want something that's gonna put you in a good mood.
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