Detention sets out its stall from the very beginning. If you want a movie that mixes Scream with Mean Girls with Juno with a bit of Donnie Darko (and The Breakfast Club, of course) then this has it all. Sadly, it seems to want to cram so much into one movie and wring a laugh from almost every line that it quickly becomes tiring to keep up with something that couldn’t be any more hip if it spent 90 minutes showing a bunch of hippies riding around on hippos, drinking from hip flasks and shouting “hip hip hooray” while a talented barman mixes cocktails to the accompaniment of “Hippy Hippy Shake”.
Taking the story of a killer despatching some high school students, Detention deliberately blends everything at high speed and keeps the gags, references, one-liners and homages coming thick and fast as Riley Jones (Shanley Caswell) tries to survive a particularly difficult time at school. It’s difficult because of that pesky killer but also because of the fact that she has to watch supercool Clapton Davis (Josh Hutcherson) fall for the superficial charms of Ione (Spencer Locke). At least she can always remind herself of the fact that she wasn’t the one girl in school photographed getting it on with the school mascot.
Director Joseph Kahn, who co-wrote the screenplay with Mark Palermo, certainly does well with the style and tone that he aims for but if you disliked the post-modern sassy twisting of the slasher movie that Scream then you’re going to find yourself crying into your popcorn while trying to endure this one. I actually enjoyed myself while watching it but I also felt a bit bruised and battered as a viewer. However, once the end credits rolled and I moved on to writing this review I considered how long it would take me to cave in and buy the thing to enjoy repeat viewings and catch many of the little gags and references that I missed during my first viewing.
The cast all do a decent job even while playing characters that are little more than heightened stereotypes, the quirkiness is fun up until a point – quirk piles up on quirk and the whole quirk tower just doesn’t hold – and the whole thing is at least polished and smooth enough from start to finish. I liked it and then I mildly enjoyed it and then I found myself wanting it to just calm down a bit and have one moment of normality. Yet while thinking about it now . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I’m back to thinking of how I liked it. Hopefully, others will feel the same way.
Detention gets stuck on DVD here in the UK on 26th August and I’d tentatively recommend it to those who can tolerate the styler and breakneck pace.
DIRECTOR: JOSEPH KAHN
WRITER: JOSEPH KAHN, MARK PALERMO
STARS: JOSH HUTCHERSON, SHANLEY CASWELL, ALISON WOODS, PARKER BAGLEY, SPENCER LOCKE, DANE COOK
RUNTIME: 93 MINS APPROX