Monday, April 10, 2006

Chainsaw, as in "Texas Massacre"

Summer School

I caught this on t.v. the other day, and decided it would be a nice follow up to Stand and Deliver. This movie breaks the genre norms of inspirational educational movies, while still conveying the general message. The main teacher does manage to befriend a class of misfits, as is normal for this type of movie, and stands up for them against the school system (specifically the voice of authority that belittles them and calls them losers). But those are the only things that stay the same. In the beginning of the movie, the teacher for the remedial english class (who is actually a gym teacher), Mr. Shoop, could care less about the students or their education, and instead of teaching takes them on "educational field trips" to the beach. It is only after the assistant principal (a man Shoop has a grudge against) calls the class a worthless bunch of losers, and threatens to get Shoop in trouble for the "field trips" that he defends the intelligence of his students and bets that he can get the entire class to pass the end exam. In order to get the class to participate, though, Shoop has to bribe them with favors, going against the norm of students who are eager to learn just for the sake of education.
Another difference is that, at the end, most of the students in fact, do not pass the exam. With Shoop's encouragement, they have all managed to improve upon their previous scores, but not enough for most to pass. The improvement, however, is enough for the principal, and Shoop keeps his job, and wins his tenure.
This movie has many hilarious scenes to keep you entertained, especially where the class's resident sfx team is concerned. Obsessed with Texas Chainsaw Massacre, they help the class enact a lovely massacre scene to get rid of the substitute teacher the assistant principal has procured to replace Shoop.
My favorite scenes, though, have to do with Shoop's dog, Wondermutt. During one scene at the beach, Shoop is in a bad mood, and throws the dog's favorite toy, a severed doll head named Bob, away from him. The surf swallows it up and Wondermutt is seen sitting in the sand looking out into the water, and the next shot shows Shoop trying to cheer up a dejected dog by offering it a new, freshly cut head that Shoop claims is Bob. After the triumphant ending, when Shoop gets the girl and they embrace on the beach, Wondermutt also joins them in rejoicing, as Bob has washed back ashore. It was a very poigniant story arc.

Favorite quote:
[about sobriety]
Chainsaw: Reality is so unreal.
Dave: But it is a nice change.
Chainsaw: True. Two thumbs up.

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