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‘The Class’ review: Joining the club

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The Class has some big shoes to fill. A group of high school school students are forced to spend their Saturday in detention. They reside in different social stratas and have different issues to contend with. There is a princess, an athlete, a brain, a basket case, and a criminal. They all seem nothing alike, but it is these differences that bring them together. Anthony Michael Hall is also in the film. Sound familiar?

Therein lies the film’s biggest issue. Its reliance on using The Breakfast Club as a template instead of a guide becomes the undoing of The Class. The casting of Hall and 1980s teen pop icon Deborah Gibson is inspired, but it also feels gimmicky. The two are fine in their roles, but they seem more like a crutch than an addition.

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Much like the movie that inspired it, The Class is filled with exposition. This is a risky tactic to take – especially in a coming of age story about high school kids – but it can work if done right. It is just a matter of giving the audiences characters they care about and situations they understand.

The script deals with important issues like abortion and suicide and the young cast does a good job of drawing audiences into their lives. Things can get melodramatic at times, which is to be expected in this type of film. Keeping people watching engaged is most important, which The Class is able to do more often than not.

Still, it is not hard to fell that writer-director Nicholas Celozzi goes a little overboard at times. Most of the kids are fleshed out and interesting, but there are some who have little backstory or motivation. These characters feels as if they were added to The Class just to add more drama. This takes away from the immersion and relatability of the movie’s message.

In the end, The Class is much like many other young adult stories that took their cues from The Breakfast Club. It is a noble experiment that has some good things going for it but ultimately does not hit home like the John Hughes classic. Plus, it never addresses the most important question: why are all the students of color failing this white lady’s class?

The Class comes to select theaters and on digital September 9

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