I give this magical assignment a “C.”
“The School for Good and Evil” is another “Harry Potter” ripoff based on Soman Chainani’s novel about a magic school with good and evil classes. Many fantasy movies in this specific genre have been made like “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” or “Vampire Academy,” and now, we have “The School for Good and Evil,” which is only good for some of its performances and evil for its length (2 and a half hours), script, students, and special effects.
I expected better from director Paul Feig, who has been able to push his filmmaking skills to new heights, as demonstrated in “Bridesmaids,” “The Heat,” and “A Simple Favor.” He’s able to transition from a comedy filmmaker going into dangerous territory, but with his new film, he misses the mark.
We meet two young women in the village of Gavaldon. Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) is a blonde girl with a bossy stepmother (Rachel Bloom) and dreams of being a princess, while Agatha (Sofia Wylie) is a young witch mocked by society for obvious reasons. They both meet under similar circumstances, and much to Agatha’s chagrin, Sophie makes a wish about being enrolled in the School for Good and Evil.
But a switcheroo happens, and these two girls end up in the wrong schools. Sophie is in the School for Evil, while Agatha is in the School for Good. The Good students are known as “Evers,” and the Evil students are known as “Nevers.” But if you ask me, the Evers are just as nasty as the Nevers, because of their rude and snotty personalities.
The School for Evil is run by Lady Lesso (Charlize Theron), while the School for Good is run by Professor Dovey (Kerry Washington). And Laurence Fishburne plays the School Master, who informs Agatha and Sophie that there are no mistakes here. They both could be in the wrong schools for a reason. Agatha is one who wants to leave, while Sophie wants to stay, but in the right school. She could make it a reality, unless she finds true love’s kiss, and the man he must kiss could be King Arthur’s son Tedros (Jamie Flatters)-the only kind Ever.
But with every magical school, there’s always evil inside and friendships are tested. We have the evil Rafal (Kit Young), who makes his way back to the school and convinces Sophie to turn against Agatha.
With a supporting cast also featuring Cate Blanchett, Michelle Yeoh, Rob Delaney, and Peter Derafinowicz, “The School for Good and Evil” is rated PG-13, which means the CGI monsters would frighten little kids, while older audiences would find them absurd and less believable. Even without the monsters, it’s often hard to distinguish the good and evil students, based on their personalities. Yes, they would eventually come together, but it’s all “Romeo & Juliet” in a less romantic and less tragic way.
The performances I did like come from Wylie, who has her persistence, Fishburne, who meets well with his age, Theron, who has a better hairstyle than she did in “F9,” Young, who captures the tone and mannerisms of an evil being, and Blanchett who narrates the film as a magic feather pen. Others like Caruso, Washington, and Yeoh (as a Beautification teacher) seem over the top.
The comedy, if there’s supposed to be, features Agatha making crows crap on her tormentors, and that’s supposed to be funny. The drama is sappy and annoying. And it all feels exhausting. If Feig wants to enter magic territory, he needs to take it to a whole other level.
Streaming on Netflix