The Re-Education of Molly Singer
2023, R, 120 min. Directed by Andy Palmer. Starring Britt Robertson, Nico Santos, Wendie Malick, Jaime Pressly, Ty Simpkins.
REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., Sept. 29, 2023
From Rodney Dangerfield leering over coeds in Back to School to Adam Sandler cramming himself into a grade school chair for Billy Madison, the "aren't you too old for this?" subgenre of crude school comedies has tended to rely on dissolute older men for its laughs. Now Molly Singer has signed up for class, and she's definitely more than prepared to drop F-bombs and Jägerbombs, and charm her way through an unscheduled return to her alma mater
As played with irrepressible immaturity and room-filling energy by Britt Robertson, it's a miracle Molly graduated the first time (there was seemingly no party without this party girl). Yet somehow she ended up with enough credit hours to get a job at a legal firm where her boss (a deliciously irate Pressly) has finally had enough of her up-all-hours but late -to-everything antics. The only way she'll hold on to her job is to covertly babysit freshman Elliot (Simpkins), Brenda's son who managed to become the campus pariah when he'd barely set foot on the quad. Accompanied by her equally dissolute friend (Santos), her job is really to teach him her one true skill: being popular.
Of course, the real lessons (as given away by this being The Re-Education of Molly Singer, not Elliot Gets Invited) are learned by the immature protagonist. Working from a script by Todd M. Friedman and Kevin Haskin, director Andy Palmer strikes the perfect balance between Molly's more obnoxious traits and her charming scheming to first manipulate, then become genuinely protective of Elliot. Moreover, he quickly swats away any suggestion of sexual tension: Luckily, since the specter of age-inappropriate relationships were dealt with using this particular gender dynamic in No Hard Feelings, this suitably avoids any comparisons. If anything, one of the best running jokes revolves around every student on campus raising an eyebrow at these two old people (in their 20s! Shocking!) still hanging around.
But if there is one place where comparisons to No Hard Feelings may apply, it's that Robertson throws herself just as much into the wild and witty comedy as Jennifer Lawrence did in her bigger-budget release, and comedy directors should be putting her at the top of their class.
Bawdy, insightful, and full of heart, The Re-Education of Molly Singer gets a gold star on its report card.