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Crime 101
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by Scott Weinberg

"Lesson of the Day: If you find a room full of weed...DON'T sell it!"
3 stars

A dark and quirky little college comedy from New Zealand, Crime 101 (known in its native land as Scarfies) has more highs than lows and earns some bravery points for having the stones to go ‘ugly’ once in a while.

Sure, the tone sometimes wavers uncomfortably between sitcom and violence, but it’s nice to see a movie that can throw you for a few unpredictable loops now and again.

Five poor-yet-affable students at Otago University (the world’s southernmost college) find themselves a rickety (but large and apparently abandoned) old house to squat in. Casually wondering what became of the original tenants, the quintet are suitably stunned when they uncover a massive cache of marijuana hidden behind some locked basement doors. It doesn’t take long before the friends choose to sell the stuff for profit (after smoking just a little for fun) - and everything goes fairly smoothly.

Imagine the group’s dismay when they find the house’s former owner (and farmer of all the recently-sold weed) snooping about the place. In a fit of panic, they lock the rabid criminal in the basement and decide to simply keep him there. For the time being, anyway.

At one point an official Sundance selection, Crime 101 succeeds in large part due its surprsingly adept cast and a screenplay that skirts cliché (for the most part) in exchange for creativity. Sort of a less-polished version of Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave, Crime 101 has a lot of components you may have seen before, but the flick as a whole holds up quite well throughout, including a nifty little finale.

Don't let the New Concorde name on the DVD fool you; this one's a lot better than most of what you'll find on Roger Corman's current label.

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originally posted: 04/30/04 00:53:12
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