Writers: Joseph Kahn & Mark Palermo
A lot of people will hate Detention and I won’t pretend that it is for everyone. It is loud, obnoxious, colorful, and ridiculous all while gleefully bouncing around between over a dozen different genres. It does not fit with the modern trend that things need to be gritty, serious, and realistic and it makes no bones about what it is. The move takes off immediately and within the opening minutes you will know if it is for you or not. Once it starts it hits the ground running at lightning speed and doesn’t relent until the credits roll.
The movie is populated by various high school types, such as the girl next door, the popular girl, the skateboarder dude, the black guy, the goth girl, the agro-jock and so on. The narrator of the opening scene is the hot cheerleader type throwing out a strange mix of modern and 90s slang while graphics fly at the screen. But she is not long for this world as a serial killer dressed as Cinderhella, a popular slasher film character in the Detention universe, slices her neck and throws her out of her window. This sets into motion the main plot of the movie that a killer is on the loose. This is by no means a conventional slasher picture however, which is merely the guise in which it is presented and marketed.
The cast is solid and handles the speed and tone well. The reality is extremely heightened and the performances are as well. Shanley Caswell as Riley is I guess what you could call the main character in a movie like this. While it is certainly an ensemble, featuring Hunger Games star Josh Hutcherson and comedian Dane Cook, and there is a lot going on the main thrust of the story revolves around her. Riley is the Molly Ringwald archetype, the cute girl who, for some reason in the movie world, is presented as the outcast, weirdo, freak girl.
Detention is not a perfect or great movie but I admired its daring and ambitious nature. The easiest movie to compare it to is calling it an indie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The speed in which the films move and the very specific references they make give the movies a more limited appeal. Detention is filled to the brim with nods and jokes about 90s pop culture, much like Scott Pilgrim and its references to anime and video games. If you grew up during the 90s the movie will appeal to you on a whole other level.
Detention is a movie for the current generation. It defies a simple plot description. It is a constantly moving, mash-up crazed, vomit of pop culture jokes, references, rapid-fire jokes and editing. The movie just can’t sit still, its right foot always tapping on the ground looking for what’s next. It is surely flawed, any movie juggling this many genres and characters is bound to have some plot threads that fall flat, and will try the patience of many but the originality and the fun are there. Detention is fast and fresh, something I was missing this summer at the movies.