1 April 2013 | lazarillo
Black comedy in the spirit of "Election"
This black comedy, kind of in the spirit of "Election", was only released on DVD several years after it was made and under the misleading title "The Good Student". It's a rare movie that instead of having a traditional hero, has more of a flawed "anti-hero", an unpopular high-school teacher (Tim Daly), who is as absorbed in his rather boring subject (US history) as any high-school teacher, but also harbors a not-so-hidden crush on one of his female students (Hayden Pantierre--I suppose it's kind of hard to blame him there though). After he gives her an ill-advised ride home and ends up kissing her, she mysteriously disappears, and he finds himself the prime suspect.
The movie stacks the deck here quite a bit by casting the good-looking and fairly young Daly in the role and also giving him a very attractive love interest more his own age (Paula Devocq). It would have been a lot more brave to cast a guy who LOOKS like a lecherous middle-age creep. He's also seems relatively noble compared to all the other characters in the movie--like the missing girls' father (William Sandler), a car salesman who seems to be using his daughter's disappearance to bolster his business, a cop (Dan Hedaya), who is both overzealous and incompetent, and another female student (Sarah Steele), who mocks "Mr. Gibbs" for his attraction to the missing girl and his interest in "barely-legal" porn, but who turns out to have her own "Lolita" thing going on. The worst perhaps though is a sleazy fellow teacher who confides that he is exchanging grades for sex with his female students.
This movie perpetuates the rather tiresome Hollywood myth that very many high-school teachers are, or would even want to, mess around with their students. Of course, not too many high-school students look like Pantierre, or even Steele. (Interestingly, Hayden Pantierre WAS high-school age when she made this movie, but she definitely doesn't look it. Steele, on the other hand, had played one of the more believable teen characters a few years earlier in "Spanglish" when she was in her "awkward years", but those years were obviously well behind her by this time). Like "Election", this movie does have some effective black comedy and satire, but it is a much more hit-and-miss affair. The movie also has a really great ending, but perhaps it is a little too subtle or ambiguous for many people to appreciate. All in all, this isn't a bad movie though.