The Principal - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Principal Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 21, 2011
Exciting movie, entertaining and sometimes funny, The Principal, have the potential to be a good film. Problem: not so great direction and script.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2010
A horrible movie about a horrible school and the horrible teachers who do horrible things to the students to try and enforce some rules. I hated this movie.
Beefy
Super Reviewer
May 13, 2007
Another guilty pleasure from the 80's.
Super Reviewer
July 8, 2009
This is one of the movies where you get to see James Belushi as a tough guy so I suggest you take a look at this teacher who takes no b.s. at his new job at a tough high school.
weelee18
Super Reviewer
November 28, 2008
great james belushi film..
January 31, 2015
The Principle tries to be a serious, but predictable, movie about turning a underfunded, unsatisfactory school around. Yet, the seriousness factor is overlooked by all the campy/cheesy scenes and lines that are more depressing than anything else.
February 23, 2010
Jim Belushi cracks down on a crime-ridden high school. The Principal is full of cliches and feels like a movie you've seen before and know all too well, but it is watchable. (First and only viewing - 8/6/2014)
April 5, 2014
It was ok. It's one of those 80s films that can entertain modern viewers once in a while. But, the tone is extremely dark, and the plot is something that modern high school movies have to be thankful for. The performances are nicely competent and carry the film. The Principal is intense, dark, affecting, and gripping for an 80s film, with one of my favorite performance out of James Belushi. The Principal is one of the most darkest toned films I have ever seen from the 80s generation.
September 19, 2013
This is a decent flic contra to popular belief. What I liked about this film is that the principal played by Belushi tries to reform the school on a technical level starting with stopping the crime first. Not a great film but it has its moments. It is a given that it is not even close to as good as "Lean On Me" (1988). But I still enjoyed it. Definitely a social commentary on what was happening then in inner city schools & has gotten worse now in those schools & in the suburbs. Flic was way ahead of its time. I especially liked the performance of Rae Dawn Chong as one of the liberal teachers trying to teach the few who want to learn.
January 22, 2013
As teaching exploitation films go, this is less about actual teaching and more about beating people up. This is a much harder, vulgar, tougher troubled school movie than were getting made around this time. Overall, it's pretty forgettable, but the final showdown in a shower room was genuinely nerve wracking. Even if you hated the Belushi character, I dare you not to be on the edge of your seat.
November 13, 2010
One of the many "tough school" films to fall from the loins of 1955's "Blackboard Jungle," "The Principal" follows Belushi and wingman Gossett as they go to the mat to save their out-of-control urban high school.

To add suspense, the duo never even bring knives to their gun fights.

Chong plays the teacher that might (or might not) have enough sense to ski-daddle to a good prep school - as well as Belushi's tepid love interest ... of sorts.

This script almost certainly took its basic inspiration from the true story of New Jersey principal Joe Clark, whose story is more directly told in "Lean on Me," a film that debuted two years after this.

Clark wielded a baseball bat, chained school doors shut and dosed out tough love - just as Bellushi does here - and Clark was taking much press just about the time this script would have been under development.

Unlike the far superior "Lean On Me" however, which is solidly built on storyline and drama, this film employs a heavy dose of violence & gore - and, unfortunately, an inflammatory racial perspective - to bait the viewer along.

Belushi, Chong and straight-up students all score serious bloody face-bashings. Belushi irrationally decides his High Noon should be held in a maze-like room, in which he scampers and cowers about for several minutes, not as a hero, but as a rat toting only a bat. Not inspiring in the least.

Belushi probably hoped this would be his career-shifting dramatic vehicle, however his performance is barely adequate. Gossett and Chong apparently saw the graffiti on the wall - and so here are working only at paycheck-speed.

The best delivery actually comes from Wright as the Machiavellian kid-hoodlum-capo. Wright deserved a ton of future work, based on what's seen here.

RECOMMENDATION: Really only for teacher-genre completists.
March 30, 2010
As teaching exploitation films go, this is less about actual teaching and more about beating people up. This is a much harder, vulgar, tougher troubled school movie than were getting made around this time. Overall, it's pretty forgettable, but the final showdown in a shower room was genuinely nerve wracking. Even if you hated the Belushi character, I dare you not to be on the edge of your seat.
June 28, 2008
Belushi is really good in this role that inspired alot of later movies like Dangerous Minds and the awful 187 which this is wayy better even though people give it shit about being an 80s movie.
June 8, 2007
Uh-oh, Jim Belushi is scowling, that means he's trying to play a dramatic role. Everyone cover your ears!
½ June 7, 2007
I'm sorry, Belushi isn't scary. He'd be the principal you'd pants in the hallway & we all know this.
½ March 7, 2007
Jim Belushi is so awesome in this 1987 film. Rick Lattimer, is forced to transfer to a high school which has drug dealers running it and tries to makes changes there. A gang leader named Victor Duncan tries to hold his power there. A great film and has some funny moments, too.
January 15, 2007
Loose-cannon high school teacher Rick Latimer (James Belushi) is "promoted" to principal of Brandel High -- the toughest school in Berkeley, Calif. But no worries: He speaks loudly and carries a big stick (a baseball bat, actually). And he'll need it when he comes up against Victor (Michael Wright), a young tough who can make even the teachers cower. Gossett and Belushi make a great team in this movie. Good story line and some exciting scenes to keep you interested. Louis Gossett Jr plays the head of security and together they team up to clean the school out of all violence and crime
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