High School High

on October 25, 1996 by Dwayne E. Leslie
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   Richard Clark ("City Slickers II's Jon Lovitz) gives up teaching at a safe private school and takes a job at the urban school from hell, Marion Barry High. MBH is so tough it has metal detectors, beer (in a paper bag) dispensing machines, armed guards and a bat wielding principal ("Two Days in the Valley's" Louise Fletcher) who hates everything about Clark. Blinded by his naive beliefs that everyone has the ability to learn, Clark ignores MBH's many faults. Once situated, Clark becomes friends with an administrative assistant (Tia Carrere) and the school's ex-gang leader ("Clockers'" Mekhi Phifer). Together, they set out to prepare Clark's class for an academic proficiency exam.
   This street comedy spoofs what teachers and students are going through in schools today: hip-hop dress and haircuts, teen pregnancy, gangs and drugs. Interwoven with "Naked Gun"-style humor, the exaggerated and in-your-face scenarios, despite stereotyping, splatter at the audience like buckshot pellets. Interestingly, city-core and suburban moviegoers could react differently to the film's humor: For example, buses filled with nicely suited executives don't stop in certain neighborhoods. Although such routines are funny at first, their continuance not only grows repetitive but also could test the limits of being able to laugh at oneself. In parts, "High School High" is hilarious; overall, it's endurable. A final laugh is provided after the closing credits, when the school gets a new name. Starring Jon Lovitz, Tia Carrere, Louise Fletcher and Mekhi Phifer. Directed by Hart Bochner. Written by David Zucker & Robert LoCash and Pat Proft. Produced by David Zucker, Robert LoCash and Gil Netter. A TriStar release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for for crude sexual humor, partial nudity and some drug references. Running time: 86 min
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