High School High
1996, PG-13, 86 min. Directed by Hart Bochner. Starring Jon Lovitz, Tia Carrere, Mekhi Phifer, Guillermo Diaz, John Neville, Louise Fletcher.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Nov. 8, 1996
In this new comedy from the producing team of David Zucker, Robert LoCash, and Gil Netter, who are best known for their Naked Gun sequels, schoolteacher Richard Clark (Lovitz) leaves the private academy where his father is headmaster, to teach at an inner-city public school, Marion Barry High. High School High contains much of the same kind of slapstick physical humor and topical verbal gags that typify the Naked Gun films, although it's questionable whether such hilarity is altogether appropriate when spoofing the inadequacies of the educational system as when spoofing the already fairly tongue-in-cheek, high-tech spy genre. Nevertheless, with its five-gags-a-minute pacing, sheer numerical odds demonstrate that some of these babies will hit their marks. Most of the best material is in the movie's first third, before the story gets bogged down in a dopey plot development about a drug ring overseen by the school's top administrator. As the school's principal, Louise Fletcher's hard-hearted villainy makes her old Nurse Ratched look like a perky little candy-striper. Lovitz is occasionally amusing, especially in his creative attempts to get through to his pupils, although his style of slow-take humor is a grave mismatch for this kind of frenzied comedy. As the love interest, Carrere bears the brunt of the movie's low-brow, physical humor, but lacks any flair for comic delivery. Although director Hart Bochner made his directing debut with 1994's campus comedy PCU, he fails to move to the head of the class with this new schoolhouse romp.