The Faculty Review

by Michael Dequina (twotrey AT juno DOT com)
December 25th, 1998

_The_Faculty_ (R) *** 1/2 (out of ****)

Questions pondered during _The_Faculty_ (all apologies to Roger Ebert, whose _Halloween:_H20_ review inspired this piece):

*Why do all (or, at least, most) Kevin Williamson scripts begin the same way?

That is, with an extended set piece that ends with a murder, usually of a recognizable star. Here it's _Cheers_ and _Chicago_ star Bebe Neuwirth, who plays Miss Drake, principal of Herrington High School, located somewhere in Ohio.

*Why do high school movies always bunch together a diverse range of students who would never interact in real life?

The film's focal group: Chilly newspaper editor Delilah (Jordana Brewster), geeky Casey (Elijah Wood), jock-turned-wannabe-brain Stan (Shawn Hatosy), loner goth chick Stokely (Clea DuVall), perky country bumpkin Marybeth (Laura Harris), and brilliant but misguided Zeke (Josh Hartnett), a drug manufacturer.

*Speaking of Hartnett, why doesn't he ever use a comb?

The _H20_ co-star's case of "perpetual bedhead" (as dubbed by _Entertainment_Weekly_) gets no better in this film. In fact, it gets worse.

*Why would a babe like Delilah be romantically linked with a dorky-looking guy like Stan?

Because she's also the head cheerleader and he the football team captain, of course.

*What is the appeal of Usher beyond his music?

The current prince of R&B is strangely robbed of all charisma not singing a note and keeping his shirt on in the small role of Gabe, Stan's eventual successor as football team captain.

*What the hell is Harry Knowles doing in this film? And in a scene with Salma Hayek, no less?

The webmaster of the notorious Ain't It Cool News site appears in a bit role as a teacher. Mercifully, we're only given one close shot of his face--a reaction take. Hard to believe, but Knowles is an even worse actor than he is a writer.

*Speaking of Hayek, why does director Robert Rodriguez always cast her in his films?

...not that I'm complaining, of course. Here, the divine Miss H. plays the school's Nurse Harper, whose nasty cough disappears when she's afflicted with a more, say, unusual ailment. As if being an impossibly gorgeous school nurse weren't unusual enough.

*Can anyone buy Amazonian former Bond Girl Famke Janssen as a mousy English teacher?

Apparently, neither can Williamson nor Rodriguez, as Janssen's Miss Burke and most of the characters undergo a 180-degree turn as a mysterious--perhaps alien--force corrupts the school faculty and, before long, the students themselves.

*Has Robert Patrick ever been more perfectly cast since

The actor effectively revives his famously ice-cold stare as football coach Willis, who, with drama teacher Mrs. Olson (Piper Laurie), is the apparent figurehead in the bizarre goings-on at Herrington. Patrick is just one of the many amusing casting touches, along with Hayek, Janssen, Laurie (from _Carrie_ and _Twin_Peaks_), Neuwirth, Jon Stewart, Susan Willis (known to viewers of _All_My_Children_ as malevolent maid Helga), and even--to a certain novelty value extent--Knowles.

*Is there a more talented genre film director currently working than Rodriguez? Or a more clever horror movie writer than Williamson?
Only these talented two can turn such a blatant _Invasion_of_the_Body_Snatchers_ ripoff/homage (with touches of _Alien_ and _Species_) into such an enjoyable--and wonderfully witty--romp. They have a clear awareness of the absurdity of the premise, but that doesn't prevent them from delivering the suspenseful goods. Williamson's script continually serves up surprising twists as it dishes out often hilarious doses of irony; and Rodriguez keeps the action moving at rapid-fire speed for maximum excitement. Whether it be lowbrow comedy (his segment in _Four_Rooms_), go-for-broke action (_El_Mariachi_ and _Desperado_), teensploitation (this and _Roadracers_), or horror (this and _From_Dusk_till_Dawn_), Rodriguez always displays boundless energy and creativity. Helping his cause as in _Dusk_ is the superlative effects work by the KNB Group, all done within an economical budget.

*Will there a bigger, better blast of pure, unpretentious, popcorn entertainment this holiday season?

Not bloody likely.


Michael Dequina
[email protected] | [email protected]
Mr. Brown's Movie Site:
CompuServe Hollywood Hotline:
___________________________________________________________________ You don't need to buy Internet access to use free Internet e-mail. Get completely free e-mail from Juno at or call Juno at (800) 654-JUNO [654-5866]

More on 'The Faculty'...

Originally posted in the newsgroup. Copyright belongs to original author unless otherwise stated. We take no responsibilities nor do we endorse the contents of this review.