Film

Too Cool for School

Napoleon Dynamite Has Big Teeth!

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You might be tempted to see School for Scoundrels because of all the funny people that are in it: David Cross, Sarah Silverman, and Ben Stiller. You might think, "Funny people make funny movies. I bet School for Scoundrels is going to be funny!" Right? Wrong. Here's a better way of looking at it: Funny people need to get paid, just like everyone else—which is why they end up playing underwritten supporting roles in marginally entertaining movies like this one.

In Scoundrels, that kid from Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) plays a loser traffic cop who's so depressed about his own patheticness that he enrolls in a top-secret "Man Class"—wherein a badass (Billy Bob Thornton) teaches a bunch of losers to be confident, sunglass-wearing lady killers. Problem is, Napoleon is too good a student—he's so successful at being cool that Billy Bob gets jealous, and steals Napoleon's crush, Amanda (Jacinda Barrett). Napoleon uses his newfound confidence to fight back, determined to get the girl.

The first half of the film has a slapsticky charm: Heder's strength is his ability to register physical discomfort, so he's pretty funny and plausible as a socially inept loser who gets panic attacks and passes out a lot. But once he actually starts talking to girls—and then, and even more improbably, kissing them—the film quickly wears out its welcome. Heder's no stud, and he never will be. (I spent the last half hour of the movie wondering what it would feel like to make out with his two front teeth.)

As a chick in the bathroom said after School for Scoundrels ended, "That was kind of funny, but I don't think I ever want to see it again." Good call, chick in the bathroom. That pretty much sums it up.

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