‘Assassination of a High School President’ on Peacock

Bruce Willis and Reece Thompson in the film by Brett Simon

“The name’s Bobby Funke. I write for the paper.” At least that’s how this picked-on sophomore imagines himself in Assassination of a High School President (2008): the loner who walks a straight line through the crooked halls of his corrupt Catholic high school.

Funke (who is inevitably called “Funky” by his schoolmates) narrates his tale in colorful metaphors and self-aggrandizing terms, a would-be private eye by way of Woodward and Bernstein on the trail of the biggest story this school has ever seen: who swiped the SATs from the principal’s safe? Funke is instantly elevated from whipping boy to high school celeb when he cracks the case wide open and splashes it across the school paper, but it turns out to be only the beginning of this tongue-in-cheek take on hard-boiled detective story when he suspects he’s being played for a patsy.

Think The Breakfast Club meets Chinatown, with a little All the President’s Men and a lot of satirical swipes at high school cliques and teenage pecking orders thrown in. Reece Thompson plays Funke, the dweeby dreamer who just wants to get the girl and get a little respect, with the right mix of ambition and naiveté, Mischa Barton is the school beauty with a touch of femme fatale about her, and Bruce Willis is the Desert Storm veteran principal with an obsessive intensity and an authoritarian streak.

It’s not quite Brick, the gold standard for hardboiled teenage detective stories, but it is a smart and clever teen flick directed with style by Brett Simon with an R-rated sensibility. And just to assuage viewers, the assassination of the title is figurative, not literal.

Rated R

Also on Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
Assassination of a High School President [Blu-ray]
Assassination of a High School President [DVD]

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The Blu-ray and DVD editions from Sony Picture Home Entertainment features commentary by director Brett Simon and screenwriters Tim Calpin and Kevin Jakubowski and two alternate opening scenes and eleven extended/alternate/deleted scenes (also with optional commentary).


Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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