High School High - *

This parody in the style of Airplane! has some scattered laughs, but not quite enough to overcome its fatal flaw: it takes itself just a bit too seriously. John Lovitz is Mr. Clark, the new history teacher at Marion Barry High School. Naturally, the school is a warzone, but the underpriveleged kids may act unruly, but they are just waiting for someone to teach them. At Barry High, Mr. Clark meets the ruthlessly disciplinarian principal, Mrs. Doyle (Louise Fletcher), and her voluptuous administrative assistant, Victoria (Tia Carrere). Clark’s most promising student is Griff (Mekhi Phifer), a former gangbanger who shows promise and yearns to go to college. However he must get out from under the thumb of Paco (Guillermo Diaz), leader of the local gang, who wants Griff back. Scattered through this film, as can be expected, are barbs at the good-teacher-bad-school film genre, as well as the cliches of inner city life in general. Still, the film milks its white-bread-guy in the hood image for more than it’s worth, and Jon Lovitz, while hilarious as a character actor, just can’t quite carry a film. Thus, in its comic phases, the film hits and misses (and the latter more often). Then the film falls in the trap of taking itself a bit too seriously, and goes to unfunny lengths to manage to have Clark clean up the school and rescue the kids. It would have been better had it stuck to its original premise, and doubled the jokes. It may have been repetitive, but at least it would have been funny.

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