A review of Joseph Khan's Detention [Flixist] / by Alec Kubas-Meyer


Wherein I tell haters that they've forgotten what it's like to be a kid.

I saw Detention on a whim. I had to be in the city earlier that day for a junket related to the film Lockout, and when I got the email, I was more than a little bit intrigued. It read:

An apocalyptic fantasy, horror, science fiction, action- thriller, body swapping, time-traveling teen romantic comedy starring Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games, The Kids Are All Right), Dane Cook(Good Luck Chuck, Mr. Brooks) and Shanley Caswell (Little Victories), DETENTION follows the local students of Grizzly Lake as they survive their final year of high school. Bringing even more angst to student life, a slasher killer has chosen their high school as his new home of slaughter.  It becomes a race against time to stop the killer, which will in turn save the world - if only they can get out of detention.

Directed by Joseph Kahn, (best known as director of such music videos as Eminem's "Without Me and Britney Spears' "Toxic,") DETENTION was co-written by Joseph Kahn and Mark Palermo.  Executive Producers on the film are Robert Abramoff, Josh Hutcherson, David Kang, Clayton Reaser, Vernon Reaser, with Producers Mary Ann Tanedo and Richard Weager.

Sounded pretty good to me, so I RSVP'd. I had three hours in between the Guy Pearce/Maggie Grace roundtables and the start of the film, so I just sort of ambled about for a while and ended up at the Magno screening room next to Times Square for about two hours.

When the movie started, I had no idea what to expect, but boy does it start off right. Anyone who's seen it knows just how brilliant the opening is, and everyone who hasn't needs to fix that immediately. It's an incredible film, and I proceeded to watch it six more times in the following year and a half, showing it to each new group of friends I met (and reshowing it those I had). Every time I see it, there's something new (most recently: CInderhella's reflection passing across the glass during the amazing opening credits scene) there, and I basically have nothing bad to say about it. My only complaints are that the hand-to-hand fight scene at the end is poorly edited and the final shot of the film ends about half a second earlier than I think it should. Pretty minor? You betcha. Over time it has grown to be one of my favorite movies of ever.

So why did I only give it an 89? Well, the old version of Flixist's review schedule actually required a film to be flawless for it to receive a 90 or higher. Under the newer system, it would absolutely be a 90+.

It's also one of the more personal reviews I've written, though not the most personal for sure. (That one will undoubtedly be featured here down the line.) The film matters a lot to me, and so does the review. I saw it when I was young enough to really remember high school and really see just how well the emotions were captured. Before every single screening I have with friends, I say, "This movie is the best representation of the emotions of high school that I have ever seen. Not the specific events, but the feeling of what it's like to be there." People don't usually understand what I mean by that on the first viewing. They're too caught up by the completely bizarre narrative and events (it's weird, but in an amazing way) to appreciate the underlying themes. But on the second, third, fourth viewings, they begin to see it's true genius. And then they understand where I was coming from and agree.

(That is why I am the film critic in my group.)

But all of these critics who claimed that it was a poor representation of high school life need to shut their big dumb faces. They don't know what they're talking about and have no business judging it. They can not like it and not appreciate it, and that's fine, but to claim that it's ineffective because they don't remember what it was like to be in high school is pathetic. It would be like a teenager watching Mad Men attempting to claim it's a bad representation of an ad agency. (If Mad Men featured time traveling bears.) They don't know what they're talking about, so they have no right to judge.

But that's a grander problem with criticism. Sometimes it's people's job to write about things they don't understand and can't relate to, but they need to further the discussion in some way. Sometimes that involves them making statements that are dumb or straight up wrong, even if they believe them. (My review of Wrong, by the way, will undoubtedly end up here at some point as well.)