‘The School for apt and Evil' Review: Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington Get All Dressed Up for Nothing in Paul Feig’s YA Fantasy Misfire

‘The School for apt and Evil’ Review: Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington Get All Dressed Up for Nothing in Paul Feig’s YA Fantasy Misfire

‘The School for Good and Evil’ Review: Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington Get All Dressed Up for Nothing in Paul Feig’s YA Fantasy Misfire

Sophia Anne Caruso and Sofia Wylie play new students at a prep school for fairy tale heroes and villains whose faculty includes Michelle Yeoh and Laurence Fishburne. Shaking off the dust of years in studio development hell, Soman Chainani’s series-spawning YA novel, The School for Good and Evil, lumbers its way to the screen trailing not only the baggage of Harry Potter and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, but that of too many knockoffs to list. Given his inexperience with fairy tale fantasy, it’s no surprise that Paul Feig exhibits zero feel for the genre’s world-building. Still, this is a uniquely tiresome slog – madly over-plotted, thuddingly derivative, insanely overlong and slathered in a big symphonic score that strives to infuse momentum into a saga with minimal emotional stakes.


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Acquired and put into production by Netflix after it stalled at Universal, it’s a lavishly appointed feature, albeit in a cloying, candy-colored way, and maybe young teens and tweens who fancy themselves as princesses or witches might find something to enjoy. Good luck to them. I never would have dreamt I’d have no love for a movie in which an offended teen fumes, “That hag is my mother!” But this is what we’ve come to.

The School for Good and Evil

The Bottom Line Fail.
Release date: Wednesday, Oct. 19
Cast: Sophia Anne Caruso, Sofia Wylie, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Flatters, Kit Young, Cate Blanchett, Kerry Washington, Charlize Theron
Director: Paul Feig
Screenwriters: David Magee, Paul Feig, based on the book by Soman Chainani
Rated PG-13, 2 hours 27 minutes

The School for Good and Evil
The prologue instantly drops us into a suffocatingly artificial CG world where twin brothers Rafal and Rhian (both played by Kit Young), who created the school to maintain the balance between good and evil, engage in videogame-style swordplay in a place ominously called “The Duel Arena” that’s never mentioned again. But after eons of peaceful co-existence, Rafal is suddenly bored with the status quo. “I prefer chaos,” he tells by-the-book Rhian, who warns him that conjuring “blood magic” will consume him.
“Evil doesn’t cooperate. Evil doesn’t share,” Rafal tells his brother. “When I’m done, evil won’t lose.”
Cut to many years later in a faraway place where a new tale unfolds, periodically narrated by Cate Blanchett with her crispest storybook authority.
Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) is an orphan, told by her late mother she was destined to change the world. But change seems unlikely in sleepy Gavaldon. Just over the hill in another cottage lives Agatha (Sofia Wylie), whose mother is a failed witch with high hopes for her daughter. The two girls are best friends, laughing off the bullying of kids who call them freaks and carving their pledge of an eternal bond into the village Wishing Tree.

When they learn of the existence of the School for Good and Evil (from Patti LuPone, no less), Sophie plants her application letter in the bark folds of the tree. Before long, she’s being carried off by a giant skeletal bird called a stymph, with Aggie latching on for the ride.
But the bird drops them in what both girls are convinced is the wrong school. Petite blonde Sophie, who dreams of becoming Cinderella, lands in Goth Central among the “Nevers,” presided over by archly malevolent dean Lady Lesso (Charlize Theron). (We know she’s mean by the way she snaps her riding crop, like Joan Crawford in Queen Bee.)
Feisty Agatha, who would have been right at home with the aspiring witches and warlocks, finds herself surrounded by tittering princesses in pastel ballgowns among the “Evers,” receiving instruction from sugary Professor Dovey (Kerry Washington). Beauty classes are conducted by Professor Anemone (Michelle Yeoh), the resident Tyra, who fails girls for poor smiling technique.
Despite the insistence of Sophie and Aggie that there’s been a mistake in their enrollment, the School Master (Laurence Fishburne) insists there are no mistakes. Their roles are already written in the pages of the Storian, a fairy tale tome penned by a magical quill that explains where all Blanchett’s plummy “And so it came to pass, blah, blah, blah…” interjections are coming from. The only solution, apparently, is for Sophie to win her true love’s kiss, so she sets her sights on Tedros (Jamie Flatters), son of King Arthur, who has half the school swooning. But dating between Evers and Nevers is strictly forbidden, wouldn’t you know it?

If all that were distilled into a clean narrative thread, it might have been somewhat captivating. But there’s so much clutter in David Magee and Feig’s screenplay that we keep veering off on dreary detours like a survival class in a forest of dark enchantments run by an elf (Peter Serafinowicz) who’s like a bad standup act.
Mostly, the plot revolves around the inevitable test of Sophie and Aggie’s friendship, which is further corrupted by the return of Rafal in a whirling spiral of blood. His sinister promises of absolute rule seduce Sophie over to the dark side. Cue the obligatory glam makeover, maniacal cackling and slo-mo power strut once she assembles her bad-girl crew. Then it’s all-out war during the Annual Evers Ball, with the Nevers hurling firebombs and other standard CG mayhem in a clash that’s too busy and messy to follow.
It’s also just never very interesting. Of course, Aggie will find a way to save Sophie and the school from Rafal’s reign of terror because the schematic nature of the convoluted story means the wannabe bad girl is inherently good. And good conquers evil. Yawn.
Feig seems adrift in a movie where the comedy is incidental rather than the driving force. Maybe he thought he was making a Princess Bride for a new generation, but there’s nothing real enough here, even within the elastic parameters of a fairy tale, to elicit much investment. What attempts there are at humor are mostly so numbingly unfunny that you might struggle to believe it’s directed by the same guy who did Bridesmaids and Spy.

Nor are the actors much fun. Theron, Washington and Fishburne all look splendid in designer Ren’ee Ehrlich Kalfus’ sumptuous costumes, but their starchy mid-Atlantic accents inhibit their performances. At least until they forget about them. Yeoh is just embarrassingly under-utilized. Caruso (who played the Winona Ryder role in Broadway’s Beetlejuice musical) is stuck with a character so inconsistent she’s annoying, while Wylie brings some welcome spirit to beleaguered Agatha.
Right down to the sprinkling of pop – Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, 2WEI’s thundering cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” – the movie panders to its target audience with puppyish eagerness. But it’s a charm-deprived, thrill-free endeavor that never really gets off the ground.
Sophia Anne Caruso and Sofia Wylie play new students at a prep school for fairy tale heroes and villains whose faculty includes Michelle Yeoh and Laurence Fishburne. Shaking off the dust of years in studio development hell, Soman Chainani’s series-spawning YA novel, The School for Good and Evil, lumbers its way to the screen trailing not only the baggage of Harry Potter and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, but that of too many knockoffs to list. Given his inexperience with fairy tale fantasy, it’s no surprise that Paul Feig exhibits zero feel for the genre’s world-building. Still, this is a uniquely tiresome slog – madly over-plotted, thuddingly derivative, insanely overlong and slathered in a big symphonic score that strives to infuse momentum into a saga with minimal emotional stakes.

Related Stories
Peeling Back 'Glass Onion': Netflix's 'Knives Out' Theater Plan Sparks Box Office Controversy
Netflix Will No Longer Share Subscriber Forecasts As the Company Sharpens Revenue Focus
Acquired and put into production by Netflix after it stalled at Universal, it’s a lavishly appointed feature, albeit in a cloying, candy-colored way, and maybe young teens and tweens who fancy themselves as princesses or witches might find something to enjoy. Good luck to them. I never would have dreamt I’d have no love for a movie in which an offended teen fumes, “That hag is my mother!” But this is what we’ve come to.

The School for Good and Evil

The Bottom Line Fail.
Release date: Wednesday, Oct. 19
Cast: Sophia Anne Caruso, Sofia Wylie, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Flatters, Kit Young, Cate Blanchett, Kerry Washington, Charlize Theron
Director: Paul Feig
Screenwriters: David Magee, Paul Feig, based on the book by Soman Chainani
Rated PG-13, 2 hours 27 minutes

The School for Good and Evil
The prologue instantly drops us into a suffocatingly artificial CG world where twin brothers Rafal and Rhian (both played by Kit Young), who created the school to maintain the balance between good and evil, engage in videogame-style swordplay in a place ominously called “The Duel Arena” that’s never mentioned again. But after eons of peaceful co-existence, Rafal is suddenly bored with the status quo. “I prefer chaos,” he tells by-the-book Rhian, who warns him that conjuring “blood magic” will consume him.
“Evil doesn’t cooperate. Evil doesn’t share,” Rafal tells his brother. “When I’m done, evil won’t lose.”
Cut to many years later in a faraway place where a new tale unfolds, periodically narrated by Cate Blanchett with her crispest storybook authority.
Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) is an orphan, told by her late mother she was destined to change the world. But change seems unlikely in sleepy Gavaldon. Just over the hill in another cottage lives Agatha (Sofia Wylie), whose mother is a failed witch with high hopes for her daughter. The two girls are best friends, laughing off the bullying of kids who call them freaks and carving their pledge of an eternal bond into the village Wishing Tree.

When they learn of the existence of the School for Good and Evil (from Patti LuPone, no less), Sophie plants her application letter in the bark folds of the tree. Before long, she’s being carried off by a giant skeletal bird called a stymph, with Aggie latching on for the ride.
But the bird drops them in what both girls are convinced is the wrong school. Petite blonde Sophie, who dreams of becoming Cinderella, lands in Goth Central among the “Nevers,” presided over by archly malevolent dean Lady Lesso (Charlize Theron). (We know she’s mean by the way she snaps her riding crop, like Joan Crawford in Queen Bee.)
Feisty Agatha, who would have been right at home with the aspiring witches and warlocks, finds herself surrounded by tittering princesses in pastel ballgowns among the “Evers,” receiving instruction from sugary Professor Dovey (Kerry Washington). Beauty classes are conducted by Professor Anemone (Michelle Yeoh), the resident Tyra, who fails girls for poor smiling technique.
Despite the insistence of Sophie and Aggie that there’s been a mistake in their enrollment, the School Master (Laurence Fishburne) insists there are no mistakes. Their roles are already written in the pages of the Storian, a fairy tale tome penned by a magical quill that explains where all Blanchett’s plummy “And so it came to pass, blah, blah, blah…” interjections are coming from. The only solution, apparently, is for Sophie to win her true love’s kiss, so she sets her sights on Tedros (Jamie Flatters), son of King Arthur, who has half the school swooning. But dating between Evers and Nevers is strictly forbidden, wouldn’t you know it?

If all that were distilled into a clean narrative thread, it might have been somewhat captivating. But there’s so much clutter in David Magee and Feig’s screenplay that we keep veering off on dreary detours like a survival class in a forest of dark enchantments run by an elf (Peter Serafinowicz) who’s like a bad standup act.
Mostly, the plot revolves around the inevitable test of Sophie and Aggie’s friendship, which is further corrupted by the return of Rafal in a whirling spiral of blood. His sinister promises of absolute rule seduce Sophie over to the dark side. Cue the obligatory glam makeover, maniacal cackling and slo-mo power strut once she assembles her bad-girl crew. Then it’s all-out war during the Annual Evers Ball, with the Nevers hurling firebombs and other standard CG mayhem in a clash that’s too busy and messy to follow.
It’s also just never very interesting. Of course, Aggie will find a way to save Sophie and the school from Rafal’s reign of terror because the schematic nature of the convoluted story means the wannabe bad girl is inherently good. And good conquers evil. Yawn.
Feig seems adrift in a movie where the comedy is incidental rather than the driving force. Maybe he thought he was making a Princess Bride for a new generation, but there’s nothing real enough here, even within the elastic parameters of a fairy tale, to elicit much investment. What attempts there are at humor are mostly so numbingly unfunny that you might struggle to believe it’s directed by the same guy who did Bridesmaids and Spy.

Nor are the actors much fun. Theron, Washington and Fishburne all look splendid in designer Ren’ee Ehrlich Kalfus’ sumptuous costumes, but their starchy mid-Atlantic accents inhibit their performances. At least until they forget about them. Yeoh is just embarrassingly under-utilized. Caruso (who played the Winona Ryder role in Broadway’s Beetlejuice musical) is stuck with a character so inconsistent she’s annoying, while Wylie brings some welcome spirit to beleaguered Agatha.
Right down to the sprinkling of pop – Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, 2WEI’s thundering cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” – the movie panders to its target audience with puppyish eagerness. But it’s a charm-deprived, thrill-free endeavor that never really gets off the ground.

Source:https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-reviews/the-school-for-good-and-evil-paul-feig-netflix-charlize-theron-kerry-washington-1235241641/

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