'General Education' an endearing tale
Movie: General Education
In theaters: Aug. 31
Pitchforks: 3.5 out of 5
With stars from popular film franchises such as “Transformers” and “Mean Girls” starring in “General Education,” talent can be expected to be quite decent. Luckily, “General Education” sinks further into a more serious comedy with success.
Chris Sheffield stars as Levi Collins, a high school senior who has a cocky demeanor. While he appears to be an overgrown high school student, his immature sense of humor hinders his true age. For example, his mother, Gale Collins (Janeane Garofalo), is listed as Robert Downey Jr. in his phone’s contacts. There is also a smattering of jokes from him that will induce a couple chuckles. He’s mostly a likeable guy, but some of his actions are incredibly senseless.
It also doesn’t help that his main sidekick, Charles (Skylan Brooks), is thirteen. However, there is never enough information provided as to why the character exists, which is a bit confusing to the audience.
Levi’s world comes to a halt when he discovers that a failing grade in his science class will prevent him from graduating high school. The situation also has a crucial financial element — Levi could potentially receive an athletic scholarship from a university to participate in tennis, which his father, Brian Collins (Bobby Campo), is constantly emphasizing during the whole movie. A brief scene displays the family tradition of remarkable tennis players and the importance of the scholarship.
In addition, ASU gets a brief nod with an acceptance letter. Unfortunately, the incessant lectures from his father make the chances of attending a different college seem bleak.
Concerned about breaking the news to his parents, Levi summons his sister, Emily Collins, played by an amusing McKaley Miller, to speak to the principal. While the principal allows him to walk at graduation, in order to graduate Levi must enroll in summer school. The odds are not in his favor on the first day of class. Levi arrives late and stumbles across a formidable opponent, Chad Worthington (Tom Maden). Chad frankly deserves a slap across the face due to his overwhelming arrogance.
Chad, the paid teacher’s assistant for the class, is competing against Levi for the athletic scholarship. To make matters worse, Chad and Levi are both vying for the affection of their sweet and diligent classmate, Katie (Maiara Walsh).
It becomes increasingly troublesome for Levi to lie to his parents about flunking the class and taking summer school. Instead of revealing the truth, he claims that he has taken up a job for the summer. Although his mother is ecstatic about the news, his father is more concerned about how Levi will have enough time to practice for the upcoming tennis competition. The tension at this point becomes almost palpable.
At first, the film poses as a delightfully fun story with enough chuckles to satisfy viewers, but there are moments where the mood becomes somber. Each parent has an issue that becomes prevalent as the movie progresses. However, some of the more serious scenes are punctuated at awkward moments in “General Education.”
There is no doubt that the movie is aimed at those in their late teens and early 20s. Older viewers may cringe at the occasional obscene, lewd remarks. The nostalgic pieces used, such as children playing a game of tetherball on a playground, will resonate more with young adults.
Among other movies filled with formulaic stories of romance and action, “General Education” serves as a pleasant break. It won’t become a blockbuster, but its quirky charm is the pièce de résistance to a great movie.
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Read The State Press interview with the producer-screenwriter of "General Education," Elliot Feld, here.