Bad Education, directed by Cory Finley, is all about the perception of perfection. The film is based on a true story surrounding the administrative staff of Roslyn High School. Superintendent Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) and his assistant Pam Gluckin (Allison Janey) are credited with bringing the school district unprecedented prestige through their positive messaging and community engagement. However, all of this is put to jeopardy when a student reporter (Geraldine Vishwanathan) delves into the corporate finances of her high school, and discovers some dubious transactions.
I’ll give this to Bad Education; its got a very interesting premise. The film links the effects of embezzlement to the negative social impacts that it can have on the surrounding community. For instance, before this scandal, Roslyn High School was ranked as the fourth best public high school in the National Rankings, and this significantly boosted the property prices around Long Island, New York – where the school was relocated – and greatly improved the chances of its students in getting into top tier colleges. However, after the scandal, property prices in the district ranked, trust in teachers dropped, and the future of the students’ education was put to doubt. This was delivered in a well put together monologue by Hugh Jackmans’ character.
The movie also weighs both sides of this embezzlement scandal well to us as the audience. What I mean is that both the advantages and disadvantages of exposing the corrupt school system are explored. It is left to us to decide which side we choose to lay our allegiances with. Lastly, all the performances in this movie were also up to par, and seemed very genuine (not over the top and true to the real life personas).
On the negative side, though this film had an interesting premise, its execution wasn’t great. There just wasn’t enough substance to keep me invested and interested in what was going on on screen. A lot of this movies’ “interesting content” was watered down by needless side-plots about characters that I just didn’t have any interest in. An example of this are the multiple personal relationships of Frank Tassone. I would have instead preferred to have spent more time seeing how the school’s embezzlement scandal was exposed. There were other relationships that also seemed out of place, such as the one between Geraldine Vishwanathan and her father. The two kind of work together to expose the school, but once again, we don’t see too much of this (literally only one or two scenes). In my view, it would have been interesting to see this father-daughter relationship play out IF ONLY we had seen more of what they did to expose the school.
In summary, I was disappointed with this film. It had an interesting premise and decent performances but this was overshadowed by its poor execution. If y’all were disappointed by this film too, don’t worry because there is hope. This may seem out of place for this review but there is another movie (in the same genre) that I am very excited for: Wrong Answer, which is directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Michael B Jordan. This upcoming title covers the infamous Atlanta public school testing scandal.