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Case Number 22260: Small Claims Court


LMP // 2011 // 14 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // September 11th, 2011

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge Tom Becker well remembers his days as a stud'nt.

The Charge

Determination today leads to success tomorrow.

The Case

Jason (Cameron Rufelds) and Vanessa (Katie Uhlmann) are acting students. Vanessa is clearly the favorite of their professor (Robert Nolan), and just as clearly, the Professor dislikes Jason. And who can blame him? Jason is arrogant and argumentative, and (at least as presented here) not necessarily all that talented.

Nonetheless, both Jason and Vanessa are among five students recommended for a prestigious internship. Jason wants it, and he wants it bad, but since the approval of the Professor is important, Vanessa seems to have the edge.

So, Jason decides to not just level the playing field, but own it.

What's surprising about the short film Teach'er is how unsurprising it is. I could summarize the whole thing in a single sentence, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but watching the film wouldn't really add a whole lot to the description.

According to the press material and liner notes, the competition for the apprenticeship forces Vanessa and Jason "to reject their own morality and come to the realization that there can be no dignity in art." It's a cool premise, but it's just not supported by what's on screen.

Jason's the focal character, but he's far from sympathetic; he's actually a pretty obnoxious guy. In one scene, he's getting oral sex from a girlfriend while sending texts to Vanessa (including an oral sex joke); he belittles Vanessa and constantly argues with the Professor. When he finally resorts to a dirty trick to get his way, it's not exactly a shocking character revelation. I'm not sure how we're supposed to get that any of this has compromised his moral compass, since he doesn't seem to have all that much maturity or self-awareness to begin with.

On top of that, his "dirty trick" is far from original or audacious; it's actually kind of hackneyed, the sort of thing you'd find in a low-budget movie from the '50s. If Teach'er were a longer film and director Cody Campanale had explored the ramifications of dirty trickstering or given Jason some kind of evolution, it could have been interesting, but as it is, what we get is 14 minutes with an unpleasant, whiny, and delusional young man, a plot twist that's not especially twisty, and an ending that I think the director feels is more profound than it actually is.

It's well shot, and the actors are fine, but there's just no story here.

The Verdict


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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 60

Perp Profile

Studio: LMP
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 14 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Drama
• Independent
• Short Films

Distinguishing Marks

• None


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