Dismissed from scholastic endeavors, the squalid, salacious sex-ploitationism running unabashed throughout teen high school films of late, Assassination of a High School President stands as the antithesis for the STV, formula, masquerading, teen dramady monstrosities. This is partially ironic since Assassination of a High School President was sentenced to be a STV film as well. Assassination of a High School President is a film with crisp dialog and a plethora of unforced humorous moments that do not result from a sexual situation.
The plot of Assassination of a High School President is an onion mystery (Did I just coin that? Probably not.) and its protagonist is Bobby “Funky” Funke (Reese Thompson), an atypical, pimped faced, non-pretty boy (I am not putting Thompson down) that embodies the character he is portraying. It is his imperfection, his “newspaper dork” pedigree, a would-be journalist for the school newspaper who has not “finished a single assignment” that causes everyone to underestimate him, his resourcefulness, and his abilities, an error Sun Tzu would never have made.
The setting of Assassination of a High School President is a uniform-mandatory, preparatory high school, yet houses realistic and hyper realistic individuals, the most ostentatious being the school Principal, Kirkpatrick (Bruce Willis). Principal Kirkpatrick is responsible for almost a third of the humor found in Assassination of a High School President and facilitates many of their other occurrences. These moments seamlessly transition to those of authentic emotion and drama. The viewer feels Funke’s palpable nervousness when he talks to the resident “it” girl in high school, Francesca Fachini (Mishca Barton). Never malicious and almost imperceptibly disdainful, Francesca is a beautiful, playful, charming, illusive enigma, a valid representation of the real-life incarnations she is the amalgamation of. She has the ability to read and say exactly what is necessary in a given situation. She knows when someone is “into her” yet is not malicious with the puissant allure she welds.
Funke is the efficient and effective Everyman, someone the male contingent of the audience can see themselves in. They may root for him when he is down, applaud when he does well, and grow frustrated when he decides to talk when a hormonal wet dream is ebbing tidally in his favor.
Navigating through the situation Funke finds himself in brings him into contact with the delinquent underbelly of his preparatory high school, fellow outsiders with colorful personalities, chief of which is Dutch Middleton (Joseph Perrino), Sam Landis (Tanya Fischer), Ricky Delacruz (Vincent Piazza), and Cipriato (John Magaro). They may not be upstanding citizens but most are witty and contentious. No matter how low on the social food chain a character is shown as being, Funky is always shown to be below them, “the school joke”. He is always confused with being a Freshmen, even though he is a Sophomore, and was tied to a snow penis in the not so recent past.
Many will notice the film noir elements present in Assassination of a High School President, note its high school setting, and erroneously confer on this film the status of being Brick-lite. This is unfortunate as Assassination of a High School President is not intended as a film noir film and Brick was, right down to its vintage dialogue and societal references. Brick happens to be set in high school but could have been transferred to another environment and played out just as well. The same can not be said about Assassination of a High School President.
Though different classes of people are mentioned in Assassination of a High School President there are basically only two: the socially in and revered and the vastly more interesting (in the context of this film) self aware, eccentric fringe-beings.
Brett Simon’s Assassination of a High School President is a who-done-it that expands and evolves, drawing upon many of the bricks and mortar of high school life to paean its tale of crushes, hormones, fiscal ingenuity, comedy, class relegation, hero worship, and reality. We are shown both sides of the high school pond, not as amplified and MTV distorted as we would find in a Michael Bay film, but in similar to reality, narrative way (with common sense liberties taken), as was seen in Lost and Delirious with a bit of The Breakfast Club bracketed in, shepherded by a protagonist that is all too real and true to life.