There has been one classic movie about high school detention, and its name is “The Breakfast Club.” The new movie called “Detention” will do nothing to change that.
It’s an obnoxious and hard to follow attempt at cutting-edge teen comedy that’s visually overwhelming while being lackluster in virtually every other respect.
“Detention” follows a group of clueless, annoying, and self-absorbed teenagers who engage in all manner of obnoxious behaviors while battling a horror-movie character that’s come to life named Cinderhella.
The teens – and later, their principal – have to team up and do their best to battle this slasher-movie queen and save the world — including using time-travel a time or two. The whole enterprise is too sloppily written and edited to follow. Audiences can at least appreciate its fast-paced visuals and rare moments of verbal wit.
Some may be drawn in by the presence of “The Hunger Games” actor Josh Hutcherson. The rising star plays a skateboarding slacker who ping-pongs through the proceedings rather than playing a fully realized character with a coherent plot line. Those eager to see him shine would be better off seeing “Games” for the fifth time.
Only superstar comedian Dane Cook, playing against his usual anti-authoritarian persona as the school’s principal, seems fully engaged and enjoying the process. Cook is rewarded, as his character has two distinctly different personae between high school student days and being principal. He tries to save the world from havoc and doom by overcoming his teen resentments, as he finds true love in the present.
Writer-director Joseph Kahn, who co-scripted this mess with Mark Palermo, is one of the music world’s top video directors, and both the film’s flashy visuals and jumpy narrative reflect that background. But just like in most videos, it’s all surface, and there are no characters to truly care about or root for aside from Cook’s principal.
Also annoying is the film’s obvious attempts to shock instead of delivering a coherent, entertaining premise. From random puking to casual sex; pill popping to screaming obscenely at parents, authority figures and each other, it’s all under the umbrella of a nasty attitude toward life and society.
Kahn told the press he spent his life savings to make “Detention,” so one can hope he’ll get back to work making videos to boost his bank account, sparing the rest of us any more attempts at his brand of feature film “entertainment.”