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Detention

by Kevin Taft
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Thursday Aug 2, 2012
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I’m not sure what to say about the genre-bending WTF new movie by video director Joseph Kahn except that it is certainly destined to be a cult film. Almost made specifically to be one, "Detention" is a comedy/horror/sci-fi/coming-of-age/teen angst mash-up that feels like a John Hughes movie that forgot to take its Ritalin.

While it appears to be about a group of teens spending a Saturday in detention only to find a killer in their midst - so essentially a horror version of "The Breakfast Club" - that’s actually only about 15 minutes of the movie. The rest of it is about various teenagers trying to survive high school. Oh, and occasionally a serial killer. But that’s not the focus. In fact, nothing is the focus. This is the ADD movie to end all ADD mov---

What I’m trying to say is this. There are cute teens, smash cuts and whooshy sequences where characters speak to the camera in some sort of post-meta something or other, the nerdy girl who isn’t so nerdy, a time-traveling stuffed grizzly bear (!), an "Edward TV-hands" who is also an alien hybrid, UFO abductions, a "Freaky Friday"-style body-switching,slasher parodies, and a musical number. And I’ve only scratched the surface.

While it is entirely watchable because it’s impossible to know where it’s going, it’s also so overly crazed it will wear the patience of even the best multi-tasker. That said, from time to time there are some truly clever lines. When the police think town nerd Riley (Shanley Caswell) is making up the severity of her attack by a serial killer based on a popular movie villain named Cinderhella, this exchange takes place:

Riley: "Look, I’m not some retarded Neve Campbell, okay? Obviously it was someone who was dressed like her."
Police Officer: "You really nuked the fridge on that one."
Riley: "I’m sorry, I don’t speak fan-boy."

If you don’t get any of those references, this movie is not for you. But if you get it, it does have its pleasures and lead Caswell is a likeable heroine. "Hunger Games" hottie Josh Hutcherson is here, but doesn’t have much to do until the third act. But it should be noted he is also an executive producer on the film.

Like "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World," this is not for everybody, but it’s certainly nothing you’ve seen before. Special Features include video commentary you can turn on while the movie is playing, Outtakes with Dane Cook (who plays the Principal), and screen tests by some of the cast. There’s also a short featurette on the stunts.

"Detention"
Blu-ray $30.99
www.sonypictures.com

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to ’Star Wars’ and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg. He can be seen in the flesh on the weekly PBS movie review series "Just Seen It."

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