Underclassman

Posted on August 26, 2005 at 3:11 pm

B
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
Profanity: Some strong and crude language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Teen drinking, illegal drugs
Violence/ Scariness: Action violence and peril, some graphic injuries, characters injured and killed
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: 2005

Apparently, when Nick Cannon was growing up, he dreamed of being Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop. It seems he also wanted to be Jon Cryer in Hiding Out. So, when he got a chance to produce a feature film for himself, he combined the two and came up with “The Underclassman.”

From Beverly Hills Cop we have the opening sequence. Bust goes wrong, cover gets blown, damage gets done, and back at the station the choleric police chief yells about how our hero has to learn to follow the rules and start respecting authority. And they even throw in a father who had a distinguished record as a cop before he died, so our hero has a daunting standard to live up to and an empty place to fill. (Do you think young Nick Cannon might have been influenced by, say, a couple of Tom Cruise movies like Top Gun or A Few Good Men?)

Then a kid at a posh private school is found dead and the police need an officer who can go undercover as a student, so Tracey (Cannon) gets one more chance. Now we move into Hiding Out mode, as Tracy enrolls as a senior to see if he can find out what happened, and, oh yes, possibly to see if he can finish out his senior year and qualify for a high school diploma to replace that G.E.D.

Tracey’s culture-clash encounters with the rich kids at the school are more race-related than age- or class-related. While he is trying to become best friends with the school’s alpha male and getting acquainted with a pretty Spanish teacher (Roselyn Sanchez) who agrees to some private lessons, he finds time for assorted wisecracks and shoot-outs. It’s straight off the assembly line with no surprises, but pleasantly entertaining thanks to Cannon’s being almost as charming as he thinks he is.

Parents should know that the movie has a good deal of violence, including shoot-outs. Characters are injured and killed. There is some strong and crude language, including jokes about herpes and potty humor. The movie includes teen drinking and illegal drugs. A drug is given to a teenager without his knowledge or consent.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was hard for Tracey to take himself and other people seriously. What was the most important thing he learned from his experience at the school?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Hiding Out and Never Been Kissed.

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