Killing Mr. Griffin

  • 1997
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Crime, Drama

Smart kids make very foolish choices in this TV movie, based on a 1978 novel by popular young-adult author Lois Duncan. Brainy high school junior Susan McCullogh (Amy Jo Johnson) has a wicked crush on hunky senior Dave Ruggles (Mario Lopez), one of the A-teens who top the school's social hierarchy. His best friend, handsome and charismatic Mark Kinney (Scott...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Smart kids make very foolish choices in this TV movie, based on a 1978 novel by popular young-adult author Lois Duncan. Brainy high school junior Susan McCullogh (Amy Jo Johnson) has a wicked crush on hunky senior Dave Ruggles (Mario Lopez), one of the A-teens who top the school's social hierarchy. His best friend, handsome and charismatic Mark Kinney (Scott Bairstow), is running for student body president and appears to have a bright future laid out before him. If only he hadn't incurred the wrath of English teacher Mr. Griffin (Jay Thomas), who never misses an opportunity to cut the golden boy down to size and might bust Mark's grade down to a "C" that will imperil the lad's Ivy League dreams. Mark and his pals — girlfriend Tori (Mindy Spence), Jeff (Chris Young) and his girlfriend Bree (Jennifer Hammon), and Dave — concoct a plan to humiliate Griffin, and use Susan's crush on Dave to rope her into the prank. But it goes awry and Griffin dies, so the frightened teens bury his body and try to cover up the crime. As the pressure mounts, the friends begin to doubt one another. Susan feels most vulnerable of all: She knows Mark and his friends don't trust or even really like her, and she can't confide in her parents or old pal Maya (future Dawson's Creek star Michelle Williams), because she threw Maya over for her shot at being in with the in crowd. Soon the question becomes, how far will the teens go to keep their secret? Like I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, also based on a Duncan novel, this tale wraps serious issues — peer pressure and the desire for social acceptance — in an entertaining crime-thriller tale that never seems entirely outlandish. Though the story's rhythm is disrupted by commercial-television pacing, the youthful cast, particularly Johnson, deliver strong performances. Curiously, I KNOW WHAT YOU DID was adapted for the screen by SCREAM-scribe Kevin Williamson, who went on to make TEACHING MRS. TINGLE (1999), about high school seniors who kidnap their history teacher. Called "Killing Mrs. Tingle" until the student massacre at Columbine High prompted a sudden title change, the film's plot is strikingly similar to that of Killing Mr. Griffin. Williamson has said that his screenplay, written while he was still in college, was inspired by his own high school run-in with a vindictive English teacher who told him he'd never amount to anything.

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  • Released: 1997
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Smart kids make very foolish choices in this TV movie, based on a 1978 novel by popular young-adult author Lois Duncan. Brainy high school junior Susan McCullogh (Amy Jo Johnson) has a wicked crush on hunky senior Dave Ruggles (Mario Lopez), one of the A-t… (more)

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