Bad Education, the film starring Mark Duplass, had its Toronto debut last weekend, but it's set to spread all over the country in a few weeks' time. While I can't promise that every movie theater in Canada will be showing Bad Education in April or even in May, I do know that it has the potential to become a huge hit.
In Bad Education, Duplass plays a struggling high school student who learns the hard way about the perils of drug abuse and violence in public school districts across the country. The film was one of the biggest surprises of this year's prestigious Toronto International Film Fest, a true story of larceny and deception in the most staid of environments: an upstate New York public school system.
It's also a surprisingly realistic depiction of the day-to-day challenges faced by those children who are left out of school in today's society. As the film opens, Duplass's character, Jack Taylor (D Duplass), is an out-of-control teenager who spends his time running wild on the town with his buddies. When the school's principal (Terence Stamp) gets wind of Jack's actions, he sends him to a boarding school.
After being forced to leave Long Island, Jack sets off to start anew in his new home. But when his new neighbor, Karen (Carrie Fisher), starts seeing a boy named Sam (Joe Mantegna) who she believes is her son, it gets more than Sam can handle.
In a series of shocking twists, Sam becomes a serial killer who terrorizes the small town of Woodstock. Meanwhile, Jack's father, Harry (Mark Duplass), a respected attorney, finds himself in deep legal trouble and must rely upon his young daughter (Zoey Deutch) to help get him out of it.
Although I'm not as familiar with the history behind the movie, I did spend a fair amount of time at the screening talking about the characters and the events of the show. Duplass and his co-stars are extremely likable, with Deutch and Fisher especially standing out. As the years roll by, I can't wait for more movies like this to come along so that I can see Duplass onscreen in a major Hollywood production.
Sam has become one of the main protagonists of the series because his "bad" behavior makes him a target for bullying. With the exception of an early episode where he becomes a victim of bullying, though, Jack has been a non-bully throughout the series, which is probably why I like him so much.
Despite the strong subject matter of the movie, though, I have only a passing familiarity with the history of Bad Education. However, I do know that it is still a very entertaining and funny movie, thanks to Duplass's ability to play off of his co-stars' personalities.
In the end, I think that Duplass does a great job of capturing the spirit of the times: the way a child who knows too much can turn into a person who doesn't know anything at all. In fact, Duplass's performance of being a lovable misfit can easily overshadow the actual message of the film.