The Barenaked Archives – Underclassman

From 2003 up until 2007, I was lucky enough to have “movie reviewer” as my job description. As such, I’ve built up a *lot* of reviews for just about every movie that came out during those years, as well as reviews of classic movies.

The Barenaked Archives are reviews that I did for two previous websites. Sadly, they are both gone, so this is now the only place online you can see these old columns.

Underclassedunderclassman

I really hate it when I check my watch after a movie and realize that it was about an hour shorter than I thought. Such is the case with Underclassman, which is studio drivel so dull and unfunny and predictable that it will make most reviewers reevaluate their chosen occupations.

It’s one of those movies that, about halfway through, has you asking two questions: “Why was this made?” and “Can I leave yet?”

In Underclassman, Nick Cannon (of Drumline fame) stars as Tracy “Tre” Stokes, a young bike cop who wants nothing more than to be a great detective like his daddy. Stokes gets his chance to prove himself when a student at an elite private school gets killed. He must go undercover and befriend the most popular student and primary suspect, Rob Donovan (Shawn Ashmore), and all the while he must negotiate the trials and tribulations that make up high school.

Actually, the easiest way to sum up this movie is to say that it’s like Beverly Hills Cop meets Never Been Kissed, only without anybody as funny as Eddie Murphy. The entire opening sequence is virtually identical to that of Beverly Hills Cop, only toned down for a PG-13.

Nick Cannon attempts to channel Axel Foley, but his efforts are unfunny at best. He is the same stereotypical character that they have in every single one of these movies: the unorthodox “loose cannon” (no pun intended) who marches to the beat of his own drum (again, no pun intended), authority and procedures be damned. He doesn’t need backup, and he can handle himself, thank you very much.

Come to that, every character in this movie is a barely two-dimensional stereotype. Aside from the aforementioned unorthodox cop (who will get suspended before he solves the case, which will then reinstate him to the force, you know it to be true), you have the uptight captain (who doubles as a father figure), the kind fellow detective, the fellow detective who exists solely to give the protagonist a hard time, the arrogant popular jerk, the arrogant popular jerk with a heart of gold, the requisite love interest, the ultra-ghetto white guy, and the bad guy with a British accent.

In other words, a bunch of bland paper people we couldn’t care less about. It’s like somebody plugged an idea into a computer program and let it do the rest.

It boggles the mind that these sort of movies even have money spent to make them, although judging by the delayed release date (from August 5 to September 2) and the lack of advertisements, there’s not much faith here to begin with.

Although, there is something innately ironic about having Cheech Marin play an uptight police captain.

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