Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Faculty (1998)

Ahh, the nineties. This here is one of them 'time-and-place' kinda pictures, where every part of it seems like an awkwardly unintentional representation of just a few short years in some specific kinda place. For The Faculty, this time is the second half of the nineties, and the place is Texas, U.S. of A. Like all Robert Rodriguez pics, we get a bunch of cameos by mostly, as of 1998, undiscovered stars like Salma Hayek, Jon Stewart, Robert Patrick, Famke Janssen, Usher, and Elijah Wood. Oh, and Josh Hartnett and Jordana Brewster are in it, but they're not really going anywhere on the fame ladder. I was a little shocked with this piece, much like the first time I watched From Dusk till Dawn. Like in that flick, where I was suddenly and heartily thrust into the world of vampires, The Faculty took me by surprise. This time it's aliens. To be honest, I was totally suspecting on the zombie side of the field, but creepy CGI aliens coming out of pods and drinking water endlessly it is. Actually, the whole thing publicly acknowledges its primary inspiration by, and quasi-plagarism of, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, an important work of cult science-fiction. This time it's the 90's twist. We've got the most quintessentially late nineties high school students (the nerd, the jock, the bitch, the new girl, the intelligent outcast, the quasi-lesbian goth, the one Black kid, etc..) doing quintessential things like selling homemade drugs out of house cleaners and caffeine pills. In fact, the director pulled a product placement exchange with Tommy Hilfiger, completing the stereotype in a dimension that I had barely considered. The school violence is a little uncomfortable but still oddly appropriate. And the football team angle completes every Gen Y's high school experience. Oh high school. Am I the only one who went to a high school where jocks didn't beat the shit out of people? What's up with that? No seriously, it's no wonder Elijah looks like a little girl, because after a few of those flagpost nut-hits, he's not even going to have man parts anymore. Anyway, the movie was a success, making back just under 3x it's original budget of $15 million. The blood and gore seems mostly legit. The stereotypes are spot-on. The twists and turns keep you guessing. And somehow (oh wait, it's the fortune and fame angle), the nerd gets the girl.

Final Judgment: "Finally, a movie that will make you feel a little better about your own HS experience!/CGI aliens really complete the absurdity and cheesiness of this passionate gruyere!/If I was ever going to experiment in creepy sex fetishes, Patrick would definitely be my guy!/Oh the baby-faced boys!

"Now these 6 students won't just question authority: they'll have to destroy it."

1 comment:

Mike J said...

What was it with paranoid teenagers in the late 1990's? Didn't this come out at the same time as Disturbing Behavior with Katie Holmes? I'm pretty sure the only reason I saw that was because it had that sweet Harvey Danger song in all the commercials.