Home Room

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 22


Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,466
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Home Room Photos

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

  • Dec 14, 2015
    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 s Super Reviewer
  • Dec 21, 2010
    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 Super Reviewer
  • Jul 09, 2010
    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 R Super Reviewer
  • Oct 09, 2009
    Home Room deals with a Columbine-like high-school shooting but rather than hashing over the occurrence itself the film portrays the aftermath and what happened to the survivors, their trauma, guilt and denial. *Spoilers* The shooting itself is treated as a foregone conclusion, with no action footage other than the reaction of an almost teenage SWAT commando after shooting the high school killer. The film has three protagonists; the detective investigating the crime of which no guilty parties are left to convict and two teenage girls surviving the incident, played by a very young Erika Christensen and Busy Philipps. The two girls having nothing in common besides the shooting are put together because of it and the drama ensues. Erika Christensen, though only 24 has been around the block so much that film viewers are pretty much acquainted with her solid and reliable style of acting. Busy Philipps, three years older than Christensen and altogether unknown to me, blew me away with her overwhelming dramatic strength and screen presence. This girl was the part. It's a great movie and it connects to you with its intimate focus on the fragile yet growing relationship between the two traumatized girls. Gus van Sant's Elephant (2003) though good, seems almost superficial and paltry compared to Home Room when it comes to dramatic flair and acting. What I can see this film got very little screen time and exposure - so much more a loss for an equally traumatized America.
    Cassandra M Super Reviewer

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