Home Room

Critics Consensus

Honorable intentions and some strong performances aren't enough to keep Home Room from occasionally slipping into distractingly didactic messaging.



Reviews Counted: 22

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,465


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.7/5

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Movie Info

American independent filmmaker Paul F. Ryan makes his feature debut with the psychological drama Home Room. The students of Valley High School try to get on with their lives in the aftermath of a traumatic school shooting in which nine students were killed. Even though the perpetrator is dead, the townspeople still want to find some answers. Detective Martin Van Zandt (Victor Garber) decides to interrogate high school student Alicia Browning (Busy Philipps), who was present during the attack. Because of her cynical attitude and dark fashion choices, she is viewed as a possible threat. Principal Robbins (James Pickens Jr.) sentences her to regular hospital visits with the pretty and popular Deanna Cartwright (Erika Christensen), who was seriously injured in the attack. Alicia and Deanna overcome their initial differences and develop a nurturing friendship with psychological help from Dr. Hollander (Holland Taylor).

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Busy Philipps
as Alicia Browning
Erika Christensen
as Deanna Cartwright
Victor Garber
as Det. Martin Van Zandt
Raphael Sbarge
as Det. Macready
Ken Jenkins
as Police Captain
Holland Taylor
as Dr. Hollander
Arthur Taxier
as Mr. Browning
James Pickens Jr.
as Principal Robbins
Constance Zimmer
as Assistant Kelly
Richard Gilliland
as Mr. Cartright
Roxanne Hart
as Mrs. Cartwright
Rick Lenz
as Bereaved Father
Joan McMurtrey
as Bereaved Mother
Harper Johnston
as Tactical Officer
Joshua H. Hayes
as Driving Police Officer
Jay Mitchell
as Escort Police Officer
John Beard
as TV Newscaster
Troy Kennedy Martin
as Police Officer
Matthew Saxe
as Student Exiting Van Zandts' Office
Jenna Z. Wilson
as Student by the Green Car
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Critic Reviews for Home Room

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (10)

Weighted by good intentions, Ryan turns a potentially riveting story of two lost souls shaken by trauma into a sappy teen drama.

Sep 12, 2003 | Rating: C-

Alicia and Deanna's journey toward friendship, or at least a truer understanding, is moving.

Sep 12, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/4

In the midst of this didactic, self-conscious movie about a high school shooting comes an extraordinary and intense performance by a young actress named Busy Philipps, which elevates the whole picture.

Sep 8, 2003

Overall, it plays like the world's longest -- over two hours -- after-school special.

Sep 5, 2003 | Rating: 2/4

Too often crosses the line between good melodrama and rank cliché.

Sep 5, 2003 | Rating: 2/4

At 133 minutes, Home Room is sluggishly paced and refuses to lighten up for even a second.

Sep 4, 2003 | Rating: 2/5

Audience Reviews for Home Room

Might have appreciated it better had I not gone in with the assumption that it's about the school shooting (and what leads to it; a la "Klass") instead of the after-effects. But still, the movie is quite flawed for what it is. Tries to make a social commentary which gets lost somewhere in all the melodrama. The actress playing Alicia wears too much make-up for what her character requires. Fails to generate the emotional effect it should have aimed for and ends up as a teen drama (almost leaning towards a chick flick) overall. To worsen it all, it's unnecessarily lengthy. That could have been avoided in the very least. If you're looking for A LESSON IN EVIL, this isn't the right one. Having said that all, it's not as bad as some movies I've recently watched. "Go figure" as Alicia might have said!!

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer


Where was I when this one came out? This film is a jewel. It opens as a shooting at an American high school has just ended. One girl witnessed the whole thing. What did she see? Another traumatized by the event. An unlikely friendship unfolds, and the truth is revealed. It's lengthy, but never gets dull. The end filled me with emotion. This one is a winner.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

Very offbeat. No real opinion on it, except I did manage to get through it all and I don't hate it. It was... alright.

Leigh Ryan
Leigh Ryan

Super Reviewer


Erika Christensen, Busy Philipps, James Pickens Jr., Victor Garber, Ken Jenkins A small town is rocked by a shooting at its high school that results in nine deaths and serious injury to one popular female student, Deanna (Erika Christensen). As a detective (Victor Garber) looks for those responsible, his concentration turns to a defiant outcast named Alicia (Busy Phillips). With her involvement still in question, Alicia visits Deanna in the hospital, and the two forge a rare bond over what they saw that fateful day. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Very raw movie about two young girls picking up the pieces after the killings at their high school. I thought it was a powerful movie with great performances by Erika Christensen and Busy Philipps. Never does the movie ever lighten up. Which I don't think a movie about a high school shooting should. It shows the aftermath of how those who remain alive are forever traumatized by this horrendous act. Alicia's issues run deeper then just the school shootings, and by the end of the film it touches on them. The movie runs long, a little over the 2hr mark, but the performances by the two main characters where good enough that I didn't mind. It's basically about these two girls who come from very different lives finding comfort in each other in coping with what life's troubles have left them with.


Super Reviewer

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