Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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Ah the old, teacher gets sent to a shitty high school in a shitty area where all the kids are unruly and is tasked with trying to turn them around, routine. How many times have we seen this idea played out? I thought I had seen them all but up pops this James Belushi vehicle. So yeah, think along the lines of 'Dangerous Minds' and to some extent 'The Substitute' and maybe 'Toy Soldiers'. The last of which also starred Louis Gosset Jr. I might add.
OK so the plot isn't quite the same as all of those movies, they each deviate but still have a common theme. In this movie whilst out drinking teacher Rick Latimer (Belushi) spots his ex at a bar with another guy. He attacks the guy and ends up damaging his car. For his punishment, the Board of Education sends him to another school in another district where there is a crime/gang problem (and lack of willing teachers). Not really sure why he wasn't fired truth be told. Or put in prison either as a matter of fact. Anyway naturally Latimer hates this decision but once at the school decides to try and clean it up...with predictable outcomes.
So as you can imagine the school is chock full of all the classic 80's stereotypes both with the students and teachers. The students are mostly made up of minorities and range from Latino gangster wannabes, punks, sluts, extras from a Vanilla Ice gig, jocks, and rednecks. Whereas the teachers are mostly white, middle-aged, wholesome looking, weedy looking, geeky looking, and completely out of their depths (although they seemingly know how to handle the kids to a degree). Gosset plays Phillips the school head security guard. An aging man who once had a shot at going somewhere in sports but got an unlucky injury. You get the impression that Phillips being black means he would be able to see eye to eye with some of the students. Talk to them on their own level, gain a bit of their respect or trust. One reason why he has survived in the job for so long. But this trope doesn't actually come up.
You could also look into the old 'white saviour' motif in this movie, if you see it that way. You could say that Belushi plays the stereotypical white character that comes along to a poor area made up of minorities and saves them all. I mean you could look at it that way. But on the other hand, if the main character was also a minority then you wouldn't get that clash of cultures which is obviously the main crux (the only movie I know that has reversed that idea being 'One Eight Seven'). You also have to acknowledge that in reality the truth hurts, and that truth is there are many schools like this and mostly they tend to be made up of minority students. The school doesn't even have to be in a poor area to have the same issues really. The old class/poverty argument can be more of an excuse in my personal opinion. Being poor doesn't mean you have to join a gang or act like an arse in school.
Obviously things are deliberately to the max in this movie. The school (a very typical huge American high school) itself is really dated looking and in a bad state. Literally everywhere is covered in graffiti. The entire place needs a paint job. Everything looks rusty or dirty. All the equipment is dated. The place looks like a literal health hazard truth be told. I can't believe there would be any schools that actually looked like this in reality, at least these days.
As for the story and characters, well its exactly as you'd expect. You can virtually predict every scene, you know exactly what's gonna happen its that cliche. Latimer is a tough guy but manages to get through to a few of the kids. He visits one female student to try and bring her around, eventually succeeding of course. He gets into some scraps, some situations. Phillips acts more like the wise sidekick on occasion although he isn't of that much help generally. And in the end, in a long sequence that is typically over the top, Latimer must face-off against the main gang that rules the school. Although considering what has happened in schools over the years with shootings, maybe this isn't over the top anymore (it would have been when I was at school).
The real problem with this movie is the casting of Belushi. This supposed to be a crime thriller but Belushi is badly miscast. Around the time this movie was made Belushi was mainly a funny guy actor, comedies or action comedies. This type of serious social commentary, mixed with some thrills, isn't really right for a young Belushi. Every scene which is clearly supposed to serious, and at times emotional, it just gets lost on Belushi. He isn't even that good with the small bits of action either as he looks terribly unfit and sweaty. Nowhere near as cool as he clearly thinks he is. Not that this movie would have been anything special with anyone else, its a cliche fest, but Belushi was just a bad choice in my eyes. The criminal students are actually the highlight here, much better performances from the 'bad guys'.
Visually this looks quite good. I liked the sprawling ramshackle all-American 80's high school, and I liked some of the shots with the lighting effects. But apart from that its all very meh. Watching a chubby Belushi thinking he's ice cool as he rides around on his dated looking motorbike was cringeworthy to say the least.
Schoolteacher gets in trouble and is assigned to be principal at one of the city's dangerous high schools. The action picks up from there and Gossett Jr. puts in a top notch performance.
Another generic "tough principal takes over a chaotic and failing high school" movie that fails to deliver any emotional impact or leave a lasting memory.
I remember the first time I saw this insane piece of cinema. I was just a kid, and I had this tiny, old TV in my room. At the time, the only thing that most channels ran at night were old movies and shows. Spike was having a nostalgia binge, playing tons of cheesy movies from the 80s, when this oddity popped up. It was just crazy enough to make me put down my comic and sit through the entire thing. It was like watching every joke about 80s movies come to life. It is beyond cheesy, beyond implausible, and completely insane, but it might just be some of the most fun I have ever had watching a movie.
I loved this movie! While the ending kind of turned into a 80's cliche, I still was on board with this all the way! There was room for it to dig a bit deeper and explore a bit more, but overall I was very happy and engaged with this movie. Very underrated in my opinion.
Belushi as the rough and tumble,no nonsense principal friggin works....do you believe that $hit.
No schmaltz or touchy feely moments here. This is the "teacher-cleans-up-bad-school" movie for people who hate those type of movies. Helps if you're a Belushi fan too.
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.
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.
Rick Latimer (James Belushi) is a high-school teacher with a drinking problem. Spotting his ex-wife Kimberly (Sharon Thomas Cain) in a bar one night, Rick gets into a fight with the man she's with, culminating in his beating the hapless man's car with a baseball bat. The board of education finds that Rick's behavior is reflecting poorly on the school district's image. They unanimously decide to transfer him to another school, in another district: Brandel High, a crime-ridden and gang-dominated institution, where he is made the new principal. Believing he can repair his image by cleaning up the school, Rick attempts to have an assembly to declare his intentions: "No more." No more drugs, running in the hallways or being late to class. While he's giving his speech, Victor Duncan (Wright), the leader of the main gang in the school, walks in, derides Rick in front of everyone, then walks out, which eventually results in a small riot, which earns Rick the enmity of not only the teachers but also the school custodian Jake (Louis Gossett Jr.). Rick will soon find out that the result of his actions is putting his own life in danger...
This is a kind of classic 80´s so so action drama with yet a social political theme putting the focus on the school system and its non functional institutions. There´s a clear connection to the great "Class Of 1984", but "The Principal" is not close to the former. James Belushi is ok as Latimer, this is the sort of role that fits him. Nice to re-see the always stunning Rae Dawn Chong.