Once upon a time I went to a movie and it was called Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. It was based on the books by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts and the screenplay was by Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer, and Kara Holden. It was directed by Steve Carr. It was about this boy named Rafe (Griffin Gluck) who had just started at an insanely strict middle school run by Principal Dwight (Andy Daly). And there have been a lot of problems with his family as well. His mom, Jules (Lauren Graham), is dating a huge jerk, Carl (Rob Riggle), but doesn't really see him when he is a jerk. And his brother (Thomas Barbusca) has recently died and his father has recently left. Rafe decides to try to break every rule in the school's code of conduct to show the principal that the rules are too strict. It is about having to face reality, realizing that even though grown-ups have the power they don't always make the right decisions, and self-expression. I thought this was a fun and interesting movie.
I feel like the moment when the whole movie really gets started is when the principal confiscates Rafe's notebook which has this entire world and language in it. And he decides to throw it in a bucket of acid. One of my favorite lines in the entire movie was when Principal Dwight said something like, "I don't know why a school would have a bucket of acid just lying around." I liked it because it was very humorous; what he said calls attention to how unrealistic it is and doesn't try to pretend it is realistic. And when they put it into the acid, all of the different characters that have been in Rafe's notebook try and climb out of the bucket of acid. I thought that was a really good use of the animation. It is a live action movie with some animation. It made you realize how much of a world there was in that book. That gets the rest of the movie going because Rafe is trying to get revenge from there on out. He chooses to get revenge by taking away Principal Dwight's precious book, which is his rule book. He destroys it, not literally, but figuratively by breaking all the rules in the book in creative ways because he is an artist.
I thought the brother-sister relationship between Rafe and Georgia (Alexa Nisenson) was very sweet, but it wasn't sappy. They still irritated each other at points, but there wasn't a whole sibling rivalry thing. They both love each other and hate Carl because they both love their mom and want the best for her. It is frustrating that their mom can't see how much of a dummy he is. I feel like there are a lot of different plot lines in this movie, so they had to make most of them very simple. The Carl plot line is pretty simple; it is just "This guy is a jerk and your mom is dating him and won't believe you." I feel like this story might have worked better as a T.V. show, so they could elaborate more on each plot line.
People who would like this movie are people who like post-it note murals, breaking rules creatively, and random buckets of acid. I think there are a lot of kids who would really enjoy this movie. I don't think it is really a movie for adults because the humor is mostly not very sophisticated. But it was a pretty fun movie!
Photos: Frank Masi