One of the things that this film does so well is point out how people make ethnic jokes totally unaware that some of the people around them may be of the same ethnicity. This gives the central character the opportunity to get a good look at what type of person that they really are and how to react to it. Story takes place in the 1950's and is about David Greene (Brendan Fraser) who is Jewish and from Scranton and and he gets a scholarship to a good prep school in the New England area and he decides not to tell anyone about his being Jewish. He's recruited to be the new quarterback on the football team and once he arrives he meets some of his new dorm buddies. His roommate is Chris Reece (Chris O'Donnell) and the person he is replacing at quarterback is Charlie Dillon (Matt Damon) who likes to tell people that he is going steady with the beautiful Sally Wheeler (Amy Locane). David does well in his studies and becomes a star on the team and gets along with everyone but once he meets Sally sparks fly.
Both David and Sally like each other instantly and soon Charlie discovers what is going on and becomes furious. Charlie looks at David as the person who took not only his position on the team but also the guy who took his girl. Then he overhears from a former alumni that David is Jewish and he uses this to try and get even. David now has to hear ugly racist jokes and find Nazi slogans tacked up in his room but he also loses Sally who could never date a Jew. While taking a final in one of his classes he notices Charlie cheating and later the teacher finds the cheat notes on the floor and he tells the students that they must find the culprit themselves or they all flunk. David tells Charlie to tell the truth but he uses this to tell everyone that it was in fact David who cheated.
This film is directed by Robert Mandel and the screenplay is written by Dick Wolf who bases this story on his own exploits as a young man in prep school. We have all seen films dealing with racism before and while this doesn't have anything to say that you haven't heard before it does do a splendid job of pointing out how racism can exist even when it's meant as a harmless joke or gesture. But things do get ugly in this film after David's true identity is revealed and here he learns that some of the people he thought were friends are really just bigots. Another good thing that this film brings to a familiar story is a cast of young actors that breath freshness into their roles. Fraser is particularly good in the lead role and while he has been blasted by some for some of the films he has made he does pop up in a good role every so often and this was his first really impressive performance. Damon also gives a good performance and his character really becomes a disgusting jerk later in the film but this also marks the first film that Damon and Ben Affleck appear in together. This is a well made film with a poignant script that in it's own low key manner is quite effective in what it wants to say and the performances by these young and talented actors are all impressive.
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