Learning Curve

  • 1998
  • Movie
  • R
  • Comedy, Horror, Thriller

This student-bashing thriller, an inventive satire about higher education for low-achievers, is a real sleeper. Grieving widower William Walmsley (John S. Davies), a veteran animal trainer, copes with his loss by changing careers and becoming a substitute teacher at Donner High School. He quickly discovers that inspiring contemporary students is an uphill...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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This student-bashing thriller, an inventive satire about higher education for

low-achievers, is a real sleeper. Grieving widower William Walmsley (John S. Davies), a veteran animal trainer, copes with his loss by changing careers and becoming a substitute teacher at Donner High School. He quickly discovers that inspiring contemporary students is an uphill climb, and though Walmsley enjoys instructing hard-working Joey (Forrest Denbow) he can make little headway with the goof-offs in his detention class. One teen temptress goes so far as to threaten a sexual harassment suit if Walmsley doesn’t raise her grade. Sadistic Davey (Mason Wiley) bullies Joey and molests art-teacher Louise Germain (Marsha Dietlein) in his spare time. When Walmsley convinces Germain to press charges, Davey's parents sue, Germain is censured by district school officials and Davey's grilfriend beats her up. Fed up with the unfairness of the system, Walmsley dreams up fake summer internships for his worst offenders, pretends to drive them to the airport and instead drugs the teen terrors on the school bus and transports them to his remote Texas property. What was good enough for circus critters is good enough for the slackers, who wake up naked in cages. By studying hard and demonstrating respect for authority, the students can obtain food, clothing, and protection from sunburn. Walmsley even stages the execution of his teacher's pet, Joey, which works wonders to shape up the rest of the pack. Meanwhile, Ms. Germain tracks down Walsmley and gets a look at his Pavlovian experiment. Will she turn him in or join him? Although it founders a little at the climax, this mean-spirited, often extremely funny black comedy caustically equates high school bullies and sideshow attractions, trashes GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS (both the 1969 and 1939 versions) and parodies THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1955) with wicked aplomb. That alone should ensure it a place on the top-ten lists of many high-school teachers and picked-upon students

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  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: R
  • Review: This student-bashing thriller, an inventive satire about higher education for low-achievers, is a real sleeper. Grieving widower William Walmsley (John S. Davies), a veteran animal trainer, copes with his loss by changing careers and becoming a substitute… (more)

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