Toronto Film Review: ‘Public Schooled’

Variety | 9/14/2017 | Dennis Harvey
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The kind of creepily misguided over-parenting that seems more apt for dramatic treatment (as in the book and film “Loverboy”) serves as the engine for light farce in “Public Schooled.” This second feature for director Kyle Rideout and co-scenarist Josh Epstein (following 2013’s “Eadward”) is a disarming spin on the misfit conceit of many a high-school comedy, as its protagonist goes from seven years of sheltered home schooling to the comparatively vast social horizons of a regular public institution — though his helicopter Mom won’t let go so easily.

Getting amusing mileage from a borderline-disturbed primary dynamic, and too sweet-natured to hit the usual crass teen-comedy notes despite some off-color humor, this is a pleasant diversion whose commercial prospects may be limited by somewhat televisual presentation.

Attempt - Liam - Daniel - Doheny - Living

Making little attempt to explain how Liam (Daniel Doheny) has managed to stay so naive and friendless despite living in a seemingly fair-sized town, the filmmakers simply introduce him as the consummately geeky, guileless — albeit surprisingly well-adjusted — product of mom Claire’s (Judy Greer) painstaking guidance. Having gotten pregnant on a debate-team field trip when she was his age now, and apparently not needing to work for a living, Claire has foresworn all other relationships in order to devote herself fully to the rearing of her only child. Unlike most home-schooling parents, she’s not serving some extreme religious or political agenda, but merely expressing a belief that public education breeds mediocrity.

In intellectual terms, at least, Liam is a roaring success: He wants to be the No. 2 astronomer in the world (deferring top spot to Stephen Hawking), and has the test scores to quite possibly realize that ambition, as well as to ensure his admittance to Cambridge next year. All he needs to do is...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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