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Worth A Look26.92%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 23.08%
Total Crap: 23.08%

4 reviews, 2 user ratings

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by Jason Whyte

"Better than watching Freejack on laserdisc."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2011 SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL: When the lights came up after my South By Southwest screening of "Detention", I busted out my phone, kicked on my WIFI and immediately tweeted to my @jasonwhyte account that "DETENTION is some kind of whacked out masterpiece. Insane film from director Joesph Kahn. Hilarious, original, fearless and swings for the fence." The immediate reaction was one fueled by some of the most crazy 93 minutes I have ever seen in a motion picture.

Attempting to explain "Detention" would make one's head explode. It's a teen comedy, a slasher picture, a time travel story with science on par with "Hot Tub Time Machine" and a satire on the insta-documenting culuture of today. It also has a mother-daughter who somehow switch bodies, time travelling is done by a giant bear and a kid who grew up with a TV attached to his hand, among other crazy angles through its running time. Just go with it, 'o my readers.

After a clever opening title sequence, involving title cards appear directly in the action as if they were printed on the very books, locker locks and banners that are in frame, the film's pacing never lets up involving a possible killer amongst the students. The throughline is outcast Riley (Shanley Caswell) who is just a little edgy and smarter than the rest of the flock (I think we all thought we were like this in high school, even if we actually were not) who gets involved with many different cliques of students in weekend detention to find out exactly what is going on. If we were to get into the guts of the plot we'd be here all day, but let's just say the film moves back in time in a very strange way to 1992.

All aspects of cliques and teen life are covered in the movie, from the outcats to the social elite who can't stop texting each other (there's a genius moment where two friends get angered from an argument, so they take out their phones and start texting each other) Even Canadians get their time on screen, as a dude from Nova Scotia braves a Calgary Flames (yes, really) jersey, argues his way through the action as his peers wonder why he's being so loud and brash when all Canadians are supposed to be nice. And no slams on Canada here; the writer is a Canadian after all.

Screenwriter Mark Palermo (who hails from Halifax) has a keen and knowing eye on culture. He knows the way youth has changed in 1992 to the ways they act now in 2011. Ditto for director Joseph Kahn, who has many music videos and loud Hollywood films on his resume (And I sure hope he hasn't read my review of "Torque" on this website) and even has no problems taking shots at his own work. In a way, it's good we have such a seasoned and experienced director at the helm as "Detention" looks absolutely awesome; shot in anamorphic by Christopher Probst, the film has a classy yet colorful look to it, frequently using the edges of the wide frame.

"Detention" is going to stir some people in entirely different ways, and I think that's okay. I have talked with many who were appalled at the whip-fast dialogue (some find it too snarky). Me? I lapped it up and am eager to watch it again. It's as if Kahn, Palermo and their filmmaking team went "You know what? I'm just going to throw all my heart and soul out onto the screen, no matter how crazy it is going to make us all look in the end, and if we strike out, then at least we tried. And if we hit a home run, well..."

For me, this is rock-out-with-your-cock-out cinema with absolute fearless abandon. This film deserves to win as much cult status as "Donnie Darko" on the youth circuit, to find a home on video for years to come. I want to see more films like "Detention" from eager filmmakers who are set out to entertain their audience by any means necessary. So many studio or glorified indie films hold back for whatever reason, fearing that they may lose that lone skeptic in the audience. For "Detention", for this kind of film to be so alive, this energetic is some kind of wonderful. A whacked out masterpice? Why the hell not.

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originally posted: 05/14/11 04:55:13
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2011 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the Fantasia International Film Festival 2011 series, click here.

User Comments

7/21/12 Sean Harrison The movie is hilarious, a lot funnier than I thought it would be. 4 stars
5/07/12 Adam Myles This movie was a great time, do yourself a favor and catch it before it leaves theaters! 5 stars
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  13-Apr-2012 (R)
  DVD: 31-Jul-2012


  DVD: 31-Jul-2012

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