"Assassination of a High School President" is a lot like "Brick," just less dark and less good. We’d liked "Brick" an awful lot, so seeing something that dances to the same beat is both fun â€” Brett Simon’s feature directorial debut is funny and light on its feet â€” and a reminder that another film took the novelty set-up of noir teenagers and made it into something more than a clever teen movie.
Reece Thompson plays Bobby Funke, the aspiring journalist whose expose in the school newspaper claiming the student body president stole SAT tests triggers what the school’s principal (Bruce Willis, gnawing on scenery) refers to as a "regime change." Thompson, the adorably wide-eyed lead in "Rocket Science," is equally likable here â€” we’d happily sub him in for Shia LaBeouf in any role. Mischa Barton, as the film’s femme fatale, is also wide-eyed, in that her acting seems to involve displaying the whites all the way around her pupils. Funke figures out that his article placed blame on an innocent party, and delves into a conspiracy involving drug dealing and academic fraud, as well as his first brushes with sex and the parties of the popular crowd. The hardboiled dialogue is played for laughs, with Funke’s voiceover consisting of lines like "She was a tough cookie, and all I wanted was a taste." It’s a gleeful cartoon and not much more.
+ "Assassination of a High School President" (Sundance)