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Case Number 12845: Small Claims Court

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Charm School

Sony // 2007 // 103 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 29th, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson attended Lucky Charm School.

The Charge

Good girls go to Heaven. Bad girls go wherever they want.

The Case

A conservative candidate for governor is looking to advance his political fortune, but there's giant obstacle standing in his way: his rebellious daughter. Adela Leon (Martha Higareda) is about as free as a free spirit can be, constantly getting in trouble with the law and refusing the obey even a basic request from her father. This leads to constant public humiliation and the PR nightmare that is Adela is jeopardizing her father's chance at the governorship.

Desperate to salvage his career and earn the endorsement of an influential heavyweight from the private sector, dad enrolls Adela in a renowned charm school, aimed at turning troubled girls into "domestic goddesses."

Yeah, that doesn't go too well, as Adela clashes with the schoolmistress, Maca (Blanca Guerra) and blows the minds of her classmates with her outrageous antics and uncivilized behavior. Her wildness reaches crescendo when she ruins her father's dinner party and single-handedly deep-sixes his political future. Can she make up for it? I think she might have just enough spunk to pull it off!

This is an odd movie. On one hand, the story is wafer-thin, the type of grist you would usually find in made-for-TV Disney movies or low-impact PG Hollywood family films starring…well, I can't think of any plucky teen actress that hasn't become a drug-addled whore these days. Anyway, the plot is a sweet, syrupy concoction, and simple yarn about a girl that acts crazy goes to a charm school befriends some other girls and learns an extraordinary number of important life lessons along the way.

In fact, the disc case itself looks to be designed with this bubblegum-pop feel in mind, full of bright colors and girlie fonts and exclamation points and saccharine ABC Family-like synopsis on the back.

On the other hand, Charm School is an R-rated foreign film rife with sex, nudity, drugs and copious use of the F-bomb. That sort of surprised me. On the back, the R-rating is tagged with a "some sexual content" warning, but Martha Higareda is frequently unclothed throughout the film. Even throwaway gags like having her towel fall off in a sauna feature full-on nipple action.

Really, this dichotomy is bizarre, leaving Charm School with, I believe, an audience problem? Who sees this movie? It seems marketed to a younger crowd, but any perceptive parent would see the rating and rebuff the pleas of his or her teenager. But the plot is so corny I don't see grown-ups running to rent this. Maybe immature 20-somethings? That's my best guess.

All that aside, Charm School isn't bad. Higareda is a great lead, full of piss and vinegar (I've been waiting a long time to use that phrase in a review), yet capable of laying on the emotion. The rest of the girls are charismatic, including one young lady who looks exactly like Haley Joel Osment. There's the typical boy trouble and girl angst tossed in as well, so if you're looking for a movie that follows the best-friends-coming-of-age-together playbook, here you go.

Video (1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen) is crisp and colorful. For audio, you only get a Spanish and French language track, with optional English subtitles. The music is pretty cheesy. A selection of small making-of featurettes and a music video are it for extras.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 75

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
• English
• French
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Comedy
• Drama

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes
• Music Video


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• Official Site

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