Here’s the lead from Joe Leydon’s review of this movie:
As Francois Truffaut sagely noted, adolescence leaves pleasant memories only for adults who cannot remember. So it’s entirely possible that even the folks who made “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” will be pleasantly surprised by the cross-generational appeal of their spirited comedy about a sixth-grader’s antiauthoritarian campaign of rule-breaking mischief.
I usually agree with Leydon’s pieces, which run in Variety, but I wasn’t with him on this one. (True, I may have been in a bad mood because I saw the movie just before yesterday’s presidential debate.)
The film takes its name and inspiration from a series of James Patterson books about Rafe, a boy who arrives at a school run by a principal who seems to hate kids and be determined to grind every ounce of creativity and enthusiasm out of their middle-school careers.
Early on, the principal destroys the most important item in Rafe’s life. After that, it’s war. Rafe, with a constant friend and the growing admiration of other students, sets out to violate every single law in the principal’s personally written rule book.
Early adolescents yearning for autonomy and chafing under the close supervision of helicopter parents may take joy in the boy’s clever mutinies. Maybe they can put up with late-in-the-show revelation of the roots of the boy’s deeper sadness. Personally, I found the whole setup labored.
The main character seems like a reasonable young man surrounded by some pretty awful adults. Who among us would begrudge him some subversive satisfaction?
The movie will be available shortly on television subscription channels. If you have children aged 10 and up, they might enjoy it. My guess is that most adults would prefer to see something else.
I make it a point to tell every middle-school student I meet that high school is much more fun than middle school and that college is even better than high school.
Middle school is a terrible concept. It’s a bunch of students who are in the middle of a biological learning lag and who also are confused about the adult changes happening to their bodies — all locked up together in a single building.
No wonder kids hate those years. No wonder a market-savvy author like James Patterson wrote a series of books addressing their frustrations.