Pregnant teenagers are never funny!
Year Released : 2011
Director : Joseph Khan
Cast : Josh Hutcherson, Shanley Caswell, Spencer Locke and Dane Cook
There are times when I am debating whether to actually watch a film or not. For example, I went to the cinema for the first time in over 3 months on Friday to watch “Child 44” (it was ok, not great) and I was unsure whether to actually watch it up until the point where I put my card in the machine and entered my PIN number. Sometimes the decision is tough, but that decision becomes a lot easier when you see that someone has described the film you are about to watch as “Scott Pilgrim meets Scream.”
I was sold on Detention there and then. I didn’t need to know any more, I went out and found the film online, paid my £2.99 to watch it and away I went. I must admit that I am glad I found a film that actually looked very interesting as, to be honest, seeing so many crap films in recent months has demoralised me a lot. You may have noticed that it’s very rare that I give a film a positive review, and I think at the time of writing, the last positive review with very few negatives was nearly a month ago when I watched the quirky Summer of Blood (click for review).
But anyway, I digress. For once it was nice to see a film that looked like it would appeal to me just from the trailer alone, however, as I mentioned in several recent reviews, a good trailer doesn’t necessarily mean a good film.
Riley (Caswell) is your typical teenage outcast at Grizzly Lake High School. She is getting close to having her leg cast removed for an unknown injury and intends to celebrate by dancing with Clapton (Hutcherson) at the prom. Riley has been attracted to Clapton since childhood, but Clapton doesn’t feel the same about her, instead being infatuated with Ione (Locke).
Meanwhile, several students start getting killed off by a copycat killer from fictional slashflick “Cinderhella”. As the students slowly get killed off one by one, school principle Verge (Cook) refuses to let the school’s reputation suffer due to the murders and the activities of the students, especially after the video of one of the students being killed also features many from the school. Verge demands that all the students that appear on the videos attend detention during the prom.
During the detention, a previously unknown student finally figures out a mathematical problem that he was set in 1992, subsequently realising that a bomb is due to go off in a matter of minutes. To stop the bomb going off Riley has to go back to 1992 as it turns out that the giant bear is actually a time machine. Can she stop it in time?
It sounds unusual because it is really. I was sat for nearly 20 minutes trying to figure out what to put as the plot because there are so many different aspects to it. In that sense it is quite unique and if you went into it not knowing what you were amount to watch, you could never be able to guess what’s going to happen It is unpredictable and that is what kept me interested. You literally don’t know what’s coming. For example, you see the bear at various points during the film but you will never, ever guess (well, you will now if you’re reading this and then watch it) that it’s a time machine.
I love films that are impossible to predict. I mentioned earlier that I’ve watched too many films recently which were awful and one of the main reasons is that they are predictable. I recently reviewed my 70th film for this website, most of which I had never seen before reviewing them, and I would guess that out of the 60 or so that I hadn’t seen before, I could tell you exactly how the film would end within twenty minutes of the film beginning, and that is never, ever, a good thing. The best films are the ones where you can’t see how it is going to end, even if the hints or there.
For example, The Shawshank Redemption is widely considered one of the best films ever made and (Spoiler Alert) although the hints are there, the fact that he escapes and gets out is one of the best endings in the history of cinema because you never see it coming. Another example I could use is Fight Club when it turns out that (Spoiler Alert) that Tyler and the narrator are in fact the same person. As I say, they are great endings because the hints are there but you never connect them until the conclusion of the film.
Don’t get me wrong, Detention has no-where near the level of cultural or emotional impact of the aforementioned, and comparing it on any other level with them would be farcical. The only reason I do mention the films in the same breath is because they are unpredictable and this is the same. For the first time in a long time, I was never actually bored. Even with films that I positively review, I regularly found myself getting a bit bored and wanting it to end, but with Detention I found myself engaged in the story throughout, even if it was a little far fetched.
The dialogue constantly surprised me and on occasions actually made me laugh. I’m not the person to laugh at films, even when I find them funny, so to achieve that is noteworthy for me. I’m going to share with you some of the more unusual and random lines during the film, even if some of them have no context whatsoever;
- “I make 40+ G’s a year, plus dental. You may not have a skittle.”
- “It is not normal for seamen to glow in the dark!”
- “I’d like to start off by saying that this girl’s argument is ridiculous! Vegetarians who eat fish are hypocrites! She thinks because fish may feel no pain they don’t value their lives. Absurd! And notice how she expresses almost no sympathy for chickens. That’s because Americans hate chickens. For example, KFC serves popcorn chicken to assure the customers that the chicken was blown to bits, yet the meatball sub at Subway isn’t called “popcorn cow.” Americans want chickens to die! Lame! Personally, I do feel sympathy for animals, which is why I choose to only eat baby animals. They have not lived as long, and they are not leaving as much behind. Baby clams, chicken wings, baby seals – no… big… loss! If we don’t eat meat, we lose out place in the food chain. Eating animals gives us confidence as humans.”
- “It breaks my spirit to see that bra size wasted on someone like you.”
It is certainly one of the more unusual set of dialogue that you will see in a film, although sometimes it does actually feel like it’s being random for the sake of being random.
That is my one criticism of the film really, random doesn’t necessarily mean funny. I mentioned earlier that this film has been compared by some to Scott Pilgrim vs the World and I can sort of see why. It has a similar visual style, such as text popping up on screen, some quirky elements to the script and moments that you don’t expect, but they are used exceptionally well in Scott Pilgrim vs the World. You never get the feeling in that film that they’re using it for the sake of trying to be funny or unique, whilst not adding to the film, which is something that I can’t say about Detention. On occasions the randomness does feel forced and therefore not organic.
However, as I say, that is my only real criticism of the film and other than that I feel it works quite well. It does polarise those that watch it, hence the score of only 5.8/10 on IMDB, but I quite liked it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing like the high school based films of the 80s or 90s, which is ironic given that the film constantly mentions and is partially set in the latter.
Infact, up until the point where they travel back in time, you are constantly wondering what the obsession with the 1990s is as it is constantly mentioned and referenced, and most of the soundtrack is from that decade. It’s not even as if the film is actually set in the 90s, in which case I’d understand. It is set in 2011 and again, up until when they travel to 1992, it seems almost strange that the 90s is CONSTANTLY referred. Obviously when the film travels to 1992 and you realise that Ione is actually her own mother and therefore lived in that period that the constant referencing makes more sense……even if Ione turning out to be her own mother (you have to watch it to try and understand it) doesn’t.
Other than that though I can’t really complain about Detention. It is unpredictable and largely enjoyable. I can see why some wouldn’t like it but for once I wasn’t clock-watching when watching it and that is such a relief. There are a few moments where I did actually laugh and that is the sign of a good comedy, especially given that I don’t have a very extrovert personality and tend to not laugh if I hear something amusing.
For once I can actually recommend a film, which is such a nice change, and if you fancy watching something a little different then you won’t go wrong with Detention.