Starring: Max Minghella, Sophia Myles, John Malkovich, Ethan Suplee, Matt Keeslar, Joel David Moore
Studio: Sony Pictures
Video: 1.85:1 widescreen enhanced for 16:9
Audio: DD 5.1, Spanish 5.1, Portuguese 5.1, French 2.0
Extras: Previews (Volver; The Devil and Daniel Johnston; Curse of the Golden Flower); Making of Art School Confidential (8 min); Sundance Featurette (7 min); Deleted Scenes (12); Additional Scene: Testimonials; Bloopers and Alternate Takes
Length: 102 minutes
This film was borne from the real-life experience of screenwriter Daniel Clowes and brought to the screen by Terry Zwigoff—both of Ghost World fame. It chronicles the life (right before, during, and right after art school) of a downtrodden youth, Jerome, who aspires to be the most famous artist of the 21st century. Those plans soon get sidetracked when he becomes obsessed with a beautiful nude model and daughter of a well-known artist, Audrey. Although he has talent, his work is often ignored in favor of fellow students whose art is lacking. The college has been plagued by a murderer and unbeknownst to the students an undercover cop is in their class looking for leads. His art is questionable, but when the rave reviews come, Jerome is quick to get jealous. (Seeing that his wannabe girlfriend is starting to fancy the cop doesn’t help!) In a strange plot twist Jerome discovers a way to attract public attention, but it might be much more attention than what he wants.
At the start of the film the comedy is laid on thick and the viewer is left to wonder if this film will be another Animal House or Revenge of the Nerds—where the class geeks can triumph. The characters throughout the film are of comic book stature and are often caricatures of themselves. This film tends to succeed where National Lampoon of late tries to be, but usually falls short. The early part of the film is populated with wit and the ability to present consistently humorous situations. Art School Confidential is replete with teen angst as Jerome is trapped in an internal struggle to find his true art-self. Unfortunately, what starts off extremely promising and hopeful (for the film) soon turns sour and overly dark—mimicking the plot of the film in some ways. Although there is a conclusion, there is not much in the way of redemption or resolution to the emotional build-up in the film. This will be a disappointment to many viewers and keep it from earning an extra star or half-star that it would most certainly have deserved had things gone differently.
Often, the biggest mistake when seeing a new film for the first time has to do with expectations. They can make a lousy film good (in the case of low or no expectations), and they can make a good film feel so-so (in the case of the expectations being high). Friends and co-workers who saw this film came expecting another Ghost World and were disappointed—don’t make that mistake and you might still manage to enjoy this one!
— Brian Bloom