The Substitute 2: School's Out - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Substitute 2: School's Out Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 25, 2008
It's just as good as the original. A riveting, exciting, thrilling and action-packed thriller. A gripping, smart and effective film with an outstanding performance by Treat Williams. Schools out gets an A.
sanjurosamurai
Super Reviewer
½ January 29, 2007
sort of goofy but fun to watch
½ May 9, 2016
Lousy sequel to a lousy movie. I want to say it's a "tough teacher goes into a failing class filled with underprivileged youths" film, but it tries to be action/murder mystery, too. Movie sucks.
June 21, 2011
This one wasn't bad, but not like the first one...Hate it when they switch people in the lead roles"
½ May 23, 2010
Though I enjoyed The Substitute for what it was, I was still incredibly surprised to see it was followed by a sequel when I visited the local video store. The original just didn't seem like a strong enough story to warrant a sequel, not to mention a franchise. I went into this sequel not expecting much because a) it is direct-to-video and b) Tom Berenger did not return as our main substitute. Despite this I enjoy Treat Williams as an actor (especially in Dead Heat and Deep Rising) so I kept an open mind. All I have to say is for a direct-to-video B-movie sequel I actually had a pretty good time.

Here our film opens with a teacher getting gunned downed down in New York. Move on next to his funeral where our new mercenary Karl Thomasson (played by Treat Williams) meanders in and we find out he was the teacher's brother. He of course tries to make amends with his niece and gets the notion to enroll as the substitute teacher to find his brother's killers with the aid of his buddy Joey 6 (one of the surviving mercenaries from the original) . He in turn uncovers a chop shop operation headed by another teacher and violence ensues.

Like the original there is plenty of violence along with some well placed humor. Thanks to the tongue-in-cheek performance by Williams that I love, he pulls many of these humorous moments off nicely. His lesson on the history of the yo-yo especially got me to smile. Along with the humor Williams also pulls off the physical mercenary part well making him really a perfect fit for the role. He's funny yet he can also be lethal. The supporting cast is also nice considering this is a low-budget film. Perhaps the one role I had trouble accepting is B.D. Wong as the shop teacher. I guess I'm used to him as the homosexual psychologist on the TV show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and I had trouble accepting him in the role of the manly shop teacher. Despite this he is still a good actor.

The connection to the original film is flimsy at best with our only returning character being Joey 6 (now played by Angel David) who tells our new substitute that Jonathan Shale from the original has given up his mercenary ways and has begun to teach. Joey 6 doesn't even seem like the same character and he might as well have been left out of the plot completely. Perhaps the film would have benefited more if Treat Williams played Tom Berenger's brother or just made it a completely different film about another mercenary turned substitute teacher with no connection.

Overall though I had a good time with this sequel as has the same mixture of violence and some sly humor. Credit for this can be given to writers Roy Frumkes and Rocco Simonelli for returning from the original. This sequel, like the original, can be a little preachy at times about how "gangs are bad" but overall this is a descent direct-to-video sequel.

Bonus Rant: The DVD I have from Lionsgate has 4 moments of poor encoding where digital blocks show up. Okay I understand a film called "The Substitute 2: School's Out" isn't going to be high art but COME ON! They also had shoddy encoding on their Knight Moves and Cutthroat Island discs as well. For a big name company they sure do put out some glitchy discs.
June 18, 2007
it was cool and inspirational about how one guy stood up for one town even though he was a mercenary.
½ August 23, 2007
Ah, B movies. I can't wait until I'm able to make them...

In [u]The Substitute 2: School's Out[/u], an idealistic teacher (Christopher Cousins) dies at the hand of High School age thugs, and his special forces brother (Treat Williams) goes undercover at the school where he taught to avenge him. (I'd say "find out who did it," but come on, it's a gang shooting while he was trying to break up a robbery. Do you really need to find out who did it? This movie manages to weave a mystery in there to explain it, but let's face it, that whole thing is really unnecessary. Dude's brother got offed, he just wants to ferret out the killer and kick his ass). I love the simplicity of that plot so much, there's no need to explain it further, really, because everything else is just gravy. That's what it's about, so that's all the plot summary I'm going to give you.

What I'm going to tell you instead is what I liked about this, and in some ways, all B movies. This is a simple, straight-forward action movie, and unapologetically so. Had it been better made, it would have been great, and to me, therein lies the appeal of the B movie. B movies are genre pics designed to make money. Unlike the independent film, they don't have to be dramas or show any great talent. They just need to be entertaining, so simplicity is good. And they usually have some built in commercial element that they can exploit, be it sex, violence, a combination thereof, stunt casting, or in this case, franchising, as this is the direct to video sequal to Robert Mandel's 1996 film. But whereas that was a mainstream Hollywood film, that probably sucked, but pretended like it was an actual movie, a movie like this isn't hiding what it is - in fact, it's selling what it is. And as a result, it has a level of freedom (to suck) that other movies don't have. And that's what I love most about B movies.

But what I found very interesting about this particular film is that it really illustrated to me the power of the action genre. Because when Treat Williams's character gets into that classroom, wooden acting and all, you're just waiting for the shitty action sequence in which he teaches these kids who's boss. As I found myself actually rooting for that inevitability, I was struck by the way the action movie format lends itself to this. The central cliche of every action movie, of the indominitable action hero, works in and of itself. Regardless of the poor execution of this movie, I still wanted to see it happen. It's a pretty amazing thing.

What's even more amazing to me are all of the other things you will always observe when watching an exploitation movie, namely, what's good about it. What's good about this movie is the basic story, Michael Michelle, the heavy handed but good-hearted attempt to give it a "the ghetto sucks but you have choices" message, the production values, and Susan May Pratt.

I talked about the story, so some comments about Michael Michelle. First of all, this woman is almost as beautiful as Vanessa Williams, but what struck me was that this film is about nine years old. Her entire career went to waste. She's 41 now, was a great actress, and a beautiful woman. Did she ever become a big star? No. And they say there's no racism. Regardless of whether you believe she was actually discriminated against, the reality, which many will tell you, is that there are almost no good roles for Black actresses. This is why we barely see Angela Bassett doing anything. Seeing Michael Michelle in this film was a sobering reminder of that.

The heavy handed script is an example of what I was talking about earlier: there is no reason for this film to be written at a fifth grade level, as far as I know. What I mean by that is, the script here is weak because that's who they could afford to hire to write it. However, if the producers took their time, they could find, I'm sure, some completely unsigned and unknown talent who actually could have done a better job (yours truly being one ;). To me, this is where B studios are missing out. Find the Quentin Tarantinos of tomorrow and give them their first break. Roger Corman did it all the time. I admired these guys for trying, but I know there's somebody out there working in a hovel who could have knocked it out of the park.

With the money they spent on this film, I could have made a great version of this movie. As I just said with the screenwriting, it's all in the direction. There are Robert Rodriguez type guys out there, many of them in film schools, who could take a no budget action movie and make it exciting. Jim Cameron was like that before the B production company Corolco gave him the chance to show how good he was. Again, look for and find those guys and gals and you've got something.

And finally, Susan May Pratt is a good actress. Period. She was good in this film, she's been good in other films; having her was a real bonus. I can't stress enough that B is a good place to develop new talent and use talent that aren't working to capacity. This town is full of talented people who aren't doing anything - find the ones willing to check their egos at the door, and you could make some great shit. Have budget, have potential.

And that's what this movie was: a lot of wasted potential. But I didn't expect it to be any more than that anyway. It's not a perfect film, by any stretch, but it's far from the worst B movie I've ever seen. And most importantly, as is the case with most B movies I see, I had a lot of fun watching it. Not for everybody, but as B movies go, this is not a bad one.
August 14, 2006
I love Treat Williams and he was pretty good in this... but the story wasn't that great... how many schools would be like this... there isn't ONE in real life... much less 3
½ May 9, 2016
Lousy sequel to a lousy movie. I want to say it's a "tough teacher goes into a failing class filled with underprivileged youths" film, but it tries to be action/murder mystery, too. Movie sucks.
December 7, 2012
Could be worth watching. Will find and devour with my eyes!
January 1, 2012
two words Treat Williams
June 21, 2011
This one wasn't bad, but not like the first one...Hate it when they switch people in the lead roles"
April 24, 2011
That is the stupidest plot summary I've ever read.
February 14, 2011
Not nearly as entertaining as the original Substitute. Treat Williams is hardly intimidating compared to Tom Berenger in the original. The fight scenes could have been better planned and subplots seemed to lead to nowhere. Nevertheless, it was somewhat entertaining and your typical "good guys get the bad guys in the end" shoot-it-out kind of movie.
February 5, 2011
Loved this movie too.
November 27, 2010
THE SUBSTITUTE 2: SCHOOL'S OUT (1998)
½ October 26, 2007
I actually found this film to be just as good as the original.
½ July 1, 2010
The murky conclusion of director Steven Pearl's straight-to-video sequel "The Substitute 2: School's Out" undercuts an otherwise okay sequel that goes to enormous ends to establish itself as the follow-up to the Tom Berenger original. Treat Williams plays an entirely different character who knew Shale, and "School's Out" concerns his search for the person who gunned down his brother in cold blood in broad daylight. Williams is suave but decisive as Karl Thomasson who masquerades as the new substitute teacher. B.D. Wong is superb as the slimy villain. The Miami high school in the first film, the school here is a zoo with abrasive students who play their boom boxes in class and tote around deadly weapons like ice picks. Unlike the villains in the predecessor who were trafficking in illegal drugs, the bad guys here are operating a chop shop for stolen cars that nets them a $100-thousand-a-month. Like the original, the most considerate character turns out to be the source of the trouble. During the first three-fourths of "The Substitute 2: School's Out," the scenarists of the first movie--Roy Frumkes, Rocco Simonelli, and Alan Ormsby--establish the reason for the sequel, neatly place the characters in the context of the original, and do a good job of integrating Karl into the action. The action scenes themselves, when Karl has to practice his expertise on the disruptive students as well as the adult villains, are fine, but everything collapses in the last quarter hour when the fatherless daughter discovers who killed her father. The filmmakers never have a confrontation scene between the hero and this villain. Moreover, the disruptive students in the classroom who should go down as hard as their counterparts did in the first movie are never shown receiving their just comeuppance for their crimes. The yo-yo scene where Karl explains the use of a yo-yo as a weapon is well-done as is the 'compromise' scene when he toss Mace's purloined boom box out the second story class room. Presumably, Mace is supposed to be the Jerome character here. The single character who doesn't have a counterpart from the first movie is Michael Michele; she plays a sympathetic school employee, Kara Lavelle, who is attracted to Karl. Initially, she met him at his brother's funeral. Not surprisingly, Karl's niece (Susan May Pratt of "Drive Me Crazy")doesn't trust Karl at first, but she breaks down and gets to like him. The only character here that is truly exceptional is the high school custodian, Johnny Bartee (Daryl Edwards of "Arthur 2: On the Rocks"), who has an unique way of entering and exiting through the tunnels in the walls. He is a former Vietnam soldier who specialized in going into tunnels to flush out the Viet Cong. One of the things that the filmmakers do that looks cool is that the car-jacking gang wears their cotton windbreakers backwards so the hood covers them faces and they have slit eye-holes to see. One of the survivors from the first movie, Joey 6, reappears here but he is played by a different actor.

Incidentally, the synopsis that states that a group of neo-Nazi kids disrupt a military academy is totally wrong. No neo-Nazis appear in "The Substitute 2: School's Out."
½ May 23, 2010
Though I enjoyed The Substitute for what it was, I was still incredibly surprised to see it was followed by a sequel when I visited the local video store. The original just didn't seem like a strong enough story to warrant a sequel, not to mention a franchise. I went into this sequel not expecting much because a) it is direct-to-video and b) Tom Berenger did not return as our main substitute. Despite this I enjoy Treat Williams as an actor (especially in Dead Heat and Deep Rising) so I kept an open mind. All I have to say is for a direct-to-video B-movie sequel I actually had a pretty good time.

Here our film opens with a teacher getting gunned downed down in New York. Move on next to his funeral where our new mercenary Karl Thomasson (played by Treat Williams) meanders in and we find out he was the teacher's brother. He of course tries to make amends with his niece and gets the notion to enroll as the substitute teacher to find his brother's killers with the aid of his buddy Joey 6 (one of the surviving mercenaries from the original) . He in turn uncovers a chop shop operation headed by another teacher and violence ensues.

Like the original there is plenty of violence along with some well placed humor. Thanks to the tongue-in-cheek performance by Williams that I love, he pulls many of these humorous moments off nicely. His lesson on the history of the yo-yo especially got me to smile. Along with the humor Williams also pulls off the physical mercenary part well making him really a perfect fit for the role. He's funny yet he can also be lethal. The supporting cast is also nice considering this is a low-budget film. Perhaps the one role I had trouble accepting is B.D. Wong as the shop teacher. I guess I'm used to him as the homosexual psychologist on the TV show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and I had trouble accepting him in the role of the manly shop teacher. Despite this he is still a good actor.

The connection to the original film is flimsy at best with our only returning character being Joey 6 (now played by Angel David) who tells our new substitute that Jonathan Shale from the original has given up his mercenary ways and has begun to teach. Joey 6 doesn't even seem like the same character and he might as well have been left out of the plot completely. Perhaps the film would have benefited more if Treat Williams played Tom Berenger's brother or just made it a completely different film about another mercenary turned substitute teacher with no connection.

Overall though I had a good time with this sequel as has the same mixture of violence and some sly humor. Credit for this can be given to writers Roy Frumkes and Rocco Simonelli for returning from the original. This sequel, like the original, can be a little preachy at times about how "gangs are bad" but overall this is a descent direct-to-video sequel.

Bonus Rant: The DVD I have from Lionsgate has 4 moments of poor encoding where digital blocks show up. Okay I understand a film called "The Substitute 2: School's Out" isn't going to be high art but COME ON! They also had shoddy encoding on their Knight Moves and Cutthroat Island discs as well. For a big name company they sure do put out some glitchy discs.
½ September 14, 2009
Not too bad for a sequal. Its watchable. Not too realistic, specially coming from NYC.
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