Year Released: 2011
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 90 minutes
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John Salvatorelli’s Drama Class is one hell of a mess of a movie. With a schizophrenic storyline and resources that far underserve the ambitions and attempted scope of the film, it’s an exercise in “whats” and “whys” that never quite comes together. To detail each plotline here would be too confusing, just as it is to watch it unfold in the film, so I’m going to keep it to the broad strokes.
The film opens with Next Big TV coming up with a new mini-reality show to be shot in a university drama class. The university they pick is the smallest in the country, Marconi University. Marconi University is named after the man who bought the university, Aldo Marconi (Michael Losurdo), and the woman who runs it, his wife Barbara Marconi (Chantelle Joy Fuoco).
Barbara, who barely looks like she’s old enough to attend the university, let alone run it, is having an affair with the university gym teacher Ron (James Richard), something she’s poorly hiding from her husband and his bodyguard, Daunte (Teru King). Beyond those major plot points, the film also concerns itself with various university students, both in and out of the drama class. Oh, and there’s an extortionist nutjob too, for good measure.
For starters, the film’s scope is far too big for the resources on display here. Why set a film at a university, regardless of how small you say the university is, and then behave as if it’s actually set at a high school (and I don’t care how rich someone is, how can anyone buy a university for their wife, have them run it, and actually have students; there must be laws against that sort of thing somewhere)? At one point students meet at their lockers. I went to a small school myself, and I don’t remember lockers; that’s why we had dorm rooms on-campus. On top of that, for as large as the cast appears to be, with so many minor characters taking up screen time with plots that seem to go nowhere, why point out how small your resources are by setting scenes at a football practice on a field that seems smaller than a baseball diamond, where there’s not enough players at practice for even an offensive line?
The bulk of the film, when not focusing on the meandering side-plots of the various students, focuses on Barbara trying her best to skip town before her husband has her killed. Oh, and again, there’s an extortionist trying to blackmail Barbara with pictures of her affair, but that doesn’t really go anywhere. Neither does the cheerleaders having a pillow fight in their undies, or the drama professor (Victor Jaskot), during a heart-to-heart with one of his students, explaining that he was a Holocaust survivor.
The film is just all over the place, all the time. It’s the narrative equivalent of “jack of all trades, master of none.” There’s even voiceover narration, which I’m sure is supposed to try to keep things together, but also feels out of place because who is narrating, and what do they have to do with anything?
On the technical side of things, the audio has numerous issues with background noise, the footage appears blown-out in many scenes and the score just comes off as silly. The only tech aspect that remotely seems okay is a very-obviously computer-generated plane crash. Everything else seems as disjointed and lackluster as the stories taking place.
I don’t know what the answer is here; normally when I review a film, I find a positive that I can hold on to, or an idea within the film that I think could be utilized in another, better project. By the end of Drama Class, though, I was at a loss. Maybe the answer is just the idea of “keep it simple, stupid.” Had the film set itself more within its means, focused on making one narrative strong as opposed to peppering the screen with whatever came to mind, it would have something. As it currently is, though, it’s just a mess.
This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.
Posted on February 26, 2012 in Reviews by Mark Bell
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