Director: Robert Mandel
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Chris O'Donnell
I love watching before-they-were-famous films, and this one fits the bill perfectly. The star of the movie is Brendan Fraser, who had Encino Man come out the same year, but had yet to do With Honors, Airheads, or George of the Jungle, movies that put him on the map. This would start Chris O'Donnell's fifteen minutes of fame; he would go on to do Scent of a Woman, The Three Musketeers, Batman Forever, and then basically drop off the face of the Earth until doing NCIS: Los Angeles (bad idea). And even Matt Damon & Ben Affleck have roles here before going on to do Glory Daze and Good Will Hunting. The point is, with a movie like this you can see the stars before they were stars; Fraser when he was cool, O'Donnell when he was a heartthrob, Damon when he was up-and-coming. You're not guaranteed an amazing movie, and you won't get one with School Ties, but it's still fun to see and not bad enough to turn off.
David Greene is a talented high school quarterback from Pennsylvania whose father works the mills to make a living. David is intelligent, talented, a bit of a hot head, but willing to do the work in order to have a good life. His football ability lands him an unprecedented transfer during his senior year to a prestigious prep school where each boy is on a direct path to the Ivy League. David just wants to fit in with his teammates & classmates despite his underprivileged background, but there's something he's keeping from them that he just can't reveal; he's Jewish. His religion would make him a pariah in this elite 1950s old boy's club, and when his secret is revealed he is treated by his classmates as a second-class citizen. He will have to overcome their prejudices to stand up for him himself & his people, making them see the person inside, not the star he wears around his neck.
I could almost see a remake of this movie done now but making David gay rather than Jewish. It'd be relevant, interesting, and I think I'd watch it. But that's beside the point. This movie was at the very least cool just because of the names starring in it, the careers that it jump started. Seeing Fraser, O'Donnell, Damon, and Affleck so young was fun if you're a movie buff, and Damon even stood out as the best actor, which makes perfect sense. The rest of the guys were fine but not incredible. Fraser was too mature; he was 23 when the movie was released and he's supposed to be 17. He was big, confident, casual; everything a high school transfer wouldn't be, even if he was a kick ass QB. The movie itself was good, but it reeked of other projects. It was a cross between Dead Poets Society and All the Right Moves, with a little bit of A Separate Peace thrown in for good measure (the novel, not the film). It just wasn't very original; boys at a prep school, failing tests, bonding, becoming men. But it was a watchable movie, despite the reused plot, if only for the peek into the past and some semi-provocative subject matter.
My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰
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