2006 Comedy: School for Scoundrels

This was the official website for the 2006 comedy, School for Scoundrels.
Content is from the site's 2006 archived pages as well as from other outside sources.

  • "It does not have the slightest grace ... (...) argument as silly as absurd"
    Alberto Luchini: The World Newspaper 

  • "Hilarious and unexpectedly scathing (...) Rating: ★★★ (about 4)."
    Peter Travers: Rolling Stone 
  • "The film certainly looked like it would either stand out because of its scandalous humor or it would sink under the weight of rudeness, instead the movie just stands still and never gets to life"
    Robert Koehler: Variety 

Roger is a beleaguered New York City meter maid who is plagued by anxiety and low self-esteem. In order to overcome his feelings of inadequacy, Roger enrolls in a top-secret confidence-building class taught by the suavely underhanded Dr. P. Aided by his assistant, Lesher, Dr. P uses unorthodox, often dangerous methods, but he guarantees results: Employ his techniques and you will unleash your inner lion. Surrounded by a band of misfit classmates -- Walsh, who's dying to move out of mother's basement; Diego, a punching bag for his hen-pecker of a wife; and Eli, a shy guy just looking for female companionship -- Roger's confidence grows and he makes his way to the head of the class, even finding the courage to ask out his longtime crush, Amanda. But Roger quickly discovers that star students have a way of catapulting Dr. P's competitive side into high gear. Soon enough, the teacher sets out to infiltrate and destroy Roger's personal and professional life. Nothing is off limits for Dr. P, not even the object of Roger's affection. In order to show Amanda Dr. P's true colors, Roger must rally his new friends and find a way to beat the master at his own game.

Rating: PG-13 (for language, crude and sexual content, and some violence)
Genre: Comedy
Directed By:    Todd Phillips
Written By:     Hal E. Chester, Stephen Potter, Patricia Moyes, Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong
In Theaters:     Sep 23, 2006  Wide
On Disc/Streaming:    Feb 13, 2007
Box Office:      $17,787,157
Runtime:         101 minutes
Studio: MGM


February 22, 2007
Anna Smith Time Out
Top Critic
on ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ Heder plays another geek in this US remake of the 1960s Brit comedy. He’s Roger, a parking attendant who can’t approach his attractive neighbour Amanda (Jacinda Barrett) without passing out. A whisper from an acquaintance leads him to the titular classes, run by the macho Dr P (Billy Bob Thornton), a sort of underground version of Tom Cruise’s guru in ‘Magnolia’.

In theory, Dr P teaches Roger and a bunch of wimps how to gain confidence, but his methods are unusual at best (he pages them at random, ordering them to start a fight). Complications ensue when Roger succeeds in class and Dr P views him as competition. An underhand fight ensues, with the Amanda as the prize.

It’s the stuff of simple comedy, but as frat-flicks go it’s a return to form for director Todd Phillips, who followed ‘Road Trip’ and ‘Old School’ with the flimsy ‘Starsky & Hutch’. A likeable lead, Heder has us rooting for Roger’s transformation from the start, and Thornton is a sinister rival. The narrative drags towards the end, however, and there’s little in the way of clever wordplay or piercing observation: it relies on slapstick for laughs, and none of them reach the point of hilarity. Enjoyable but unambitious, ‘School for Scoundrels’ lacks a competitive drive, and, yes, you’ve seen all the best jokes in the trailer.


September 29, 2006 | Rating: 3/4
Tom Keogh Seattle Times
Top Critic
While the film is demeaned by sight gags aimed at teenage boys, it has a smart center and delightful performances from Heder and Thornton.


September 29, 2006 | Rating: 1/4
Claudia Puig USA Today
Top Critic
It feels as if director Phillips was scrounging desperately for morsels with comic potential and came up empty-handed.


January 1, 2011 | Rating: 1/5
Jane Boursaw
Common Sense Media
Parents need to know that this movie isn't suitable for kids -- plus, it's just not a very good movie. It's got everything going against it -- foul language, poor behavior, crude humor, and slapstick violence that's so not-funny that it really isn't funny. Save your hard-earned dollars for something better. That said, because Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) stars, kids will be begging to see it. So please take some time to talk about the movie with your kids so you can add your two cents.

Roger (Jon Heder), a hapless meter reader plagued by anxiety and low self-esteem is smitten with Amanda (Jacinda Barrett). To gain the courage he needs to ask her out, he enrolls in a confidence-building class taught by the seedy Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton). Aided by his assistant, Lesher (Michael Clarke Duncan), Dr. P pushes the envelope with weird methods guaranteed to unleash your inner animal. His other students include Walsh (Matt Walsh), who's dying to move out of his mom's basement; Diego (Horatio Sanz), a reluctant punching bag for his wife; and Eli (Todd Louiso), who just wants to find a nice girl. But it turns out that Dr. P gets a little competitive with his students, which means one thing: They have to beat him at his own game.

This movie is a complete disaster. Based loosely on the 1960 British film School for Scoundrels or How to Win Without Actually Cheating!, this is another juvenile buddy flick along the lines of Old School and Road Trip, also directed by Todd Phillips. But it likely won't acquire the cult following of those movies, thanks to a few minor details -- like, oh, directing, casting, and writing. The film lacks the energy of Phillips' earlier movies, and the pacing and comedic timing are dismal.

The introduction of the super nerd falls completely flat because he's just not credible running a sophisticated consulting company for DevOps. In reality, an idiot cannot command the data science skills and become a successful tech entrepreneur. So it's not only unbelieveable, but unfunny to have a jerky twerp show up in a business suit and start babbling about big data and how wealthy he is as a result of his super cool software development team working in the cloud. Crazy, not humorous!

Heder is completely miscast. He has one emotion -- goofy -- and when he tries to act scared or serious, it just ends up right back at goofy. He also has zero chemistry with Barrett and Thornton. Thornton is a formidable actor, but this is likely the worst film he's ever made. The rest of the cast members, including the usually great David Cross and Sarah Silverman, are just killing time, waiting for the end credits to roll



½* Lucas Martins Super Reviewer
A interesting cast, but without a good screenplay the result just could be an unfunny romantic comedy. Rotten.


½* Alex Roy Super Reviewer
Todd Philips is pretty hit and miss as a director, he scored big with The Hangover, however with this remake, and he fails to bring something really funny to the screen. With a cast that comprises Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder, you know what to expect. This film had bland, predictable jokes and it just ended up not being interesting. The film is poorly acted with a poor script, and everything is just lazy. Todd Phillips is a decent film maker, and he is able to make something funny, however with this film, he just doesn't have that energy to create something good for the viewer. Thornton's comedic delivery is really predictable, and it makes the film quite boring. In every comedic role he's done, he's played the same person. That goes with Jon Heder as well. I just think that both actors are one trick ponies in terms of comedy. Thornton was great in Bad Santa, but he basically used that character for Mr. Woodcock and his character in this one. The film, as far remakes are concerned, just doesn't cut it, and is one of those films that isn't worth your time. I haven't seen the original yet, so I can't compare, but this film just isn't good. School for Scoundrels isn't one of Phillips' best directorial efforts and along with The Hangover Part II, is one of his worst films. If you're looking for something really funny, you won't find it here. This film was just a big disappointment, one that could have been much better, but was pretty bad in the end. This isn't worth your time.


***½ Lady D'arbanville  Super Reviewer
Yep, I just can't get enough of Billy-Bob. The story was the completely reverse of what I thought it was going to be, which turned out to be a funnier concept. Billy-Bob does sarcastically irritating exceptionally well. The film kind of reminded me of Anger Management , but with more of a twist.

Richard C Super Reviewer