Assassination of a High School President


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This film is a high concept dramedy told in the form of a 1940's film noir. What makes it "high concept" is that it takes place within a contemporary Catholic high school. An aspiring sophomore writer for the school paper finally gets his chance at a big scoop. He investigates some stolen SAT exams and follows the anfractuous trail to the senior class president, whom everyone had thought to be the All-American boy. His story understandably catches the attention of the high school principal (Bruce Willis, in self-parody mode) who goes to the locker of the suspect and finds the stolen tests. The case is closed and the nerdy reporter is suddenly a toasted and respected student, and is dating the hottest senior girl.

But something is rotten at St. Donovan's. The reporter comes to believe that the class president was framed, and that he himself was set up to create the frame. When he starts to get too close to the truth, the baddies have to discredit him, so their next move will be to reveal that the reporter personally stole the tests and framed the president, all in the interest of a great story.

Can he outsmart the evil conspiracy? Can he even figure out what the heck it is?

"Assassination ..." is a sleeper, a pleasant surprise, a consistently clever and occasionally very entertaining effort. And yet it is one of those films that leaves the viewer with the feeling that it should have been a contender, maybe even a masterpiece, but settled for something less. Part of the problem is the plot's punctilious reproduction of the messy Raymond Chandler narratives. Chandler's stylistic flourishes, like his characters who never tell the whole truth even when it would be in their best interest to do so, always seem appropriate when we see them in old Bogart movies, but seem absurd when allegedly located in the real world. For example, the entire complex conspiracy presented in this story would have been solved in about fifteen minutes of running time if the framed senior president had merely told the reporter everything he knew right from the beginning - and he had every reason to do so, and no reason to withhold the info.

There could be ways to pull this story off believably without abandoning allegiance to the noir genre requirements. The writers could have done it with point of view, for example, by allowing a gap between the reporter's vision of himself as Sam Spade, and the genuine reality surrounding him. He could have pictured himself wearing a trench coat even though we could see he was simply wearing his school uniform. But these screenwriters couldn't quite find a way to pull off something like that. Instead they made the decision to style the film as a black comedy in which the characters and locations are broad, surreal parodies rather than real people in a real high school. That decision produced some funny lines, but it also created a great distance between the audience and the story's characters, even the ones who are supposed to be sympathetic. The screenwriters had to choose between a poignant, sensible story or strict adherence to the genre formulas. They chose the latter. Instead of presenting an involving noir story with credible characters, the film ends up being essentially an aloof academic exercise in homage, albeit a stylish and often enjoyable one.


* widescreen anamorphic, 2.40:1








There are no major, graded reviews available. Variety's comments and a few other reviews are linked from the IMDb page.


7.5 IMDB summary (of 10)


Box Office Mojo. No theatrical release. None scheduled at the time this page was written.


  • Mischa Barton showed her breasts in two scenes.
  • Patrick Taylor showed his butt.
  • There is a scene in the boy's locker room. Several anonymous butts are visible.


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It is an interesting genre homage.