Directed by Joseph Kahn
Featuring Shanley Caswell, Josh Hutcherson, Spencer Locke, Dane Cook
To put it bluntly, Detention is a 1980s and early 90s fanboy/girl's pop culture wet dream.
Just about every geeky reference both (mainstream and obscure) is riffed upon. The Breakfast Club, Back to the Future, Freaky Friday, Scream — its all here. Director Joseph Kahn has taken every teenage film made in the past 30 years and filled it with cinematic crack cocaine, and then turned it up to 11.
After a wonderful plot misdirect in the beginning, the film settles on the main character, Riley Jones (Shanley Caswell), a high school misfit that is has some suicidal tendencies. She is in love with her platonic friend Clapton Davis (Josh Hutcherson) who is in turn hot for the 1990's obsessed cheerleader Ione Foster (Spencer Locke). While this is all going on a killer named Cinderhella is on the loose killing off the student body. The principal (Dane Cook) with a personal grudge wants to keep them all in detention. Oh and did I mention, there is a time machine in stuffed bear that comes from outer space?
I wasn't a fan of Josh Hutcherson in The Hunger Games and he didn't impress me here either. For the most part he is just another bland pretty boy, but I have a feeling many of his female fans would disagree. Newcomer Shanley Caswell is excellent, though. She is full of charm and really does a good job of holding together this wild rollercoaster of a movie. Dane Cook (in a bit of stunt casting) is really funny as the school principal and perhaps utters the best line about Skittles candy ever.
This is director Joseph Kahn's follow-up to the ramped-up Torque from 2004. That film never made much of an impact at the box office and he's has been making his bones with commercials and music videos. Its clear that this film (made using a lot of his own money) is a labor of love and it shows. Despite paying homage to dozens of films, it does have its own unique energy that is completely original. Kahn succeeds on making a film that is both accessible and beats to its own drum.
The only problem with the film is that it throws out too many ideas and can feel a little directionless. Detention is filled with so many clever ideas it is hard to keep up with the pace. Some will argue that is actually the films strength, though. Either way, I'd rather have a film with too many ideas and than not enough of them.
Detention is a film that hasn't really found an audience yet because, frankly, it has one of the most useless trailers ever made for a feature film that doesn't show 1/10th the fun and energy of it really has. With a story jokes that race at a 100 miles an hour, the movie likely to be a home video favorite. Its just too bad they don't make VHS video anymore because this child of 80s and early 90s movie just begs to be seen in an old-school format.