Sundance Review: Assassination of a High School President
by Alex Billington
January 24, 2008
I love high school movies, don't you? With the Sundance 2005 film Brick, high school movies finally could be smart, interesting, and entertaining. With Assassination of a High School President at Sundance this year, I've discovered yet another great high school movie that combines the strength of both Brick and last year's Rocket Science to create one awesome unforgettable film. I went into this not even looking forward to seeing it and was delightfully surprised.
Assassination of a High School President is about Bobby Funke (Reece Thompson), a journalist for the school newspaper who acts 20 years older than his age, wears a detective-style trench coat, and chews more gum than you eat food. Think Watergate's Woodward and Bernstein embodied into a nerdy a high school sophomore, and you've got Bobby Funke. His first assignment is to write an article on the class president, but when he's coaxed by the "hottest girl on campus" (Mischa Barton) to instead investigate the case of the missing SATs, thinks really start to get sticky.
Since this is a high school movie, let me explain it with a bit of math. Assassination of a High School President is Brick + Rocket Science (thanks to Reece Thompson) + a hotter lead female (Mischa Barton) + better comedy + a stronger script. It's the combination of the best parts of Brick and Rocket Science, two of the other best high school movies in years, and a better script. This movie is solid gold and I'm glad I took the time to go discover what will definitely be one of my favorite movies of 2008, and I truly mean that.
I can't say enough good things about Reece Thompson. This guy is on his way to incredible success, and if two independent high school movies alone can prove that, then I can't wait to see what else he'll do. He builds upon his Rocket Science performance and really takes it to the next level here. Screw Bruce Willis, who has a supporting role in this as the principal, it's all about Reece's spot-on hilarious portrayal of young gumshoe journalist-detective Bobby Funke that not only carries the movie but makes this so damn funny.
The comedy never stops, the story is full of twists that keep you on the edge of your seat, and overall this is one of the best balances of mystery and comedy that I've seen in ages. As is the case with most Sundance movies, because they are usually "finished" being edited the night before they premiere, this could use a bit of tightening before its final presentation, but not much. In the end, Assassination of a High School President could easily be a huge success, and I hope it is, because it's a great movie that deserves endless appreciation.
And did I mention Mischa Barton is smokin' hot?! See below.