In The School for Good and Evil, childhood friends, Sophie and Agatha, get whisked away from their home town to be enrolled in the titular school which teaches children right from wrong, and wrong from right. But as the children near the grounds of the school, they are separated, with wannabe princess Sophie sent to the bad side, and could-be witch, Agatha, sent to the good side.
Both children believe they have been enrolled incorrectly, and as far as Agatha is concerned, she doesn’t want to be at the school at all. As for Sophie, she does want to stay, but she wants to move to the fluffier, more colourful classes, where she feels she is meant to be.
After speaking to their school master about the situation, they are told there is a way to change their fortunes, they simply need to be kissed by their true loves. If they can do this, then Sophie will be re-enrolled and Agatha will be sent home.
With a plan in place, Sophie and Agatha set about trying to fix their predicament. But with the two girls separated, and being taught very different subjects, they both begin to change their attitudes and find their friendship being put to the test.
Directed by Paul Feig, The School for Good and Evil stars Sophia Anne Caruso, Sofia Wylie, Charlize Theron, Laurence Fishburne, Kerry Washington, Michelle Yeoh, and Cate Blanchett. The movie is based on Soman Chainani’s young adult book of the same name, and arrives on Netflix today.
The School for Good and Evil is a fantasy adventure, which is Harry Potter meets Percy Jackson, via Narnia and The Disney Channel. The film is an amalgam of fairytales and mythology, filled with magic, famous faces, and CGI creations, as well as costumes borrowed from Bridgerton.
Aimed at a teen audience, the movie clearly has its eyes set on a youthful crowd, and certainly has a few moments of fun, but The School for Good and Evil is largely a mess of a picture which is both slow and incredibly clunky. The film suffers from an abundance of exposition, a severe lack of excitement and originality, and boy, does it drag out its almost two-and-a-half-hour runtime.
At times The School for Good and Evil also looks quite cheap. Some of the sets and backdrops aren’t as believable as they should be, some of the cinematography doesn’t appear to be up to scratch, and one or two scenes look as if they could do with a few extra actors to fill out the empty space.
The whole thing tries its best, and there’s a sense that headliners such as Charlize Theron, Laurence Fishburne and Kerry Washington are doing what they can to paper over the cracks, but there are simply too many cracks and there’s nowhere near enough paper. It’s intended audience might find it all acceptable, but in all honesty, anyone over the age of 11 will find it fairly tedious.
With Paul Feig in the director’s chair (and being a co-writer on the screenplay) I had hoped for something better. Feig has been behind some great films in the past, including Bridesmaids (2011), The Heat (2013), and Ghostbusters (2016) – yes, I said Ghostbusters – but The School for Good and Evil is nowhere near the same quality.
I’m going to scratch this up to an oversight, a shortfall in the budget, or just a misstep. Either way, this is not Feig’s greatest work, so let’s just rule a line under it and move on.
On the plus side, The School for Good and Evil does feature a small part for Ally Cubb, who Drag Race UK fans will know as the alter-ego of Scaredy Kat. Cubb gets a comedic role, playing the accident prone (and kind of wimpy) Gregor, and this is an enjoyable turn which is easily the bright spot in the movie, even if Cubb’s scenes are rather short-lived.
Oh, and the film features the brief use of Sam Ryder’s Eurovision song, ‘Space Man’, which plays out for a few seconds right near the end of the movie. Any use of this song is always welcome in my book!
But other than that, there’s not much going on here. The School for Good and Evil isn’t dreadful, but it’s also not particularly great, nor is it any better than the countless fantasy adventure films that have come before it.
If you have youngsters in the house, they want to give it a watch, and they manage to stick with it, then take the opportunity to let Netflix keep them company for a couple of hours and go do something else. Believe me, you’re not missing much by skipping this one.
Leave a Reply