Producers: Nicholas Celozzi and Michael Sportelli Director: Nicholas Celozzi Screenplay: Nicholas Celozzi Cast: Charlie Gillespie, Lyric Ross, Hannah Kepple, Colin McCalla, Juliette Celozzi, Michael Sebastian, John Kapelos, Debbie Gibson and Anthony Michael Hall Distributor: Brainstorm Media
Speculation about a sequel to “The Breakfast Club” has been around ever since the seminal high-school movie premiered in 1986, but the death of its creator John Hughes in 2009 pretty much squelched the idea, even if there are reports that a script for one had been written. Fans might have to content themselves with this sort-of updating by Nicholas Celozzi, which does bring back two members of the “Club” cast—Anthony Michael Hall, who played Brian “The Brain” Johnson, and John Kapelos, who was the Shermer High janitor Carl. Of course, neither plays the same character here, and it’s hardly contentment that fans of “The Breakfast Club” are likely to feel with “The Class.”
The premise is that six students in the Olympia High drama class of upbeat adjunct Miranda (Debbie Gibson) are gathered for a special Saturday session they have to complete in order to pass the course—an implausible academic notion at best. And watching over the session is Mr. Faulk (Hall), a rigidly officious school administrator who’s there to assure things are done properly.
The students are, of course, a disparate group. There are Jason (Charlie Gillespie), a trouble-maker in the Bender mold and Michael (Michael Sebastian), a Clark-like jock. The others are less reminiscent of the “Club” team. Casey (Lyric Ross) is uptight, Jessie (Hannah Kepple) shy and reserved, Allie (Juliette Celozzi) dark and sensitive, and Max (Colin McCalla) brooding, angry and just possibly violence-prone. Miranda pairs them off to write scenes they can play together, and also assigns monologues in which they are to describe invented characters. All of this, she’ll explain as a perplexed Faulk looks on censoriously, is to help them “find themselves.”
The initial hostility among the students breaks down awfully easily, and before long major secrets begin pouring out. One student reveals guilt over helping an absent friend get an abortion—a revelation that leads to a coincidence that stretches credulity past the breaking point. Another student is struggling with coming out. Yet another has cancer. One hasn’t come to terms with losing his parents in an auto accident and being raised by his uncle (Kapelos). Even Miranda admits to a childhood trauma that has long kept her apart from her father. Indeed, fathers, absent or judgmental, appear a common denominator in the problems that keep cropping up.
Through it all Hall’s Faulk plays the Paul Gleason part, telling students to shut up, stop fighting and get off their phones while occasionally dragging Miranda out into the hallway to complain that she’s letting things get into far too serious territory that will cause the school problems. Otherwise, though, Hall is stuck will a mostly reactive role, with the camera repeatedly turning on him to show Faulk scowling, snidely smiling or showing surprise when one of the students seems even vaguely insightful. And of course he shows signs of going softie at the end.
Otherwise the cast is adequate, no more. Gibson is so bubbly and cheerful that you might want to slap her, but the younger performers get by without being too embarrassing, even if some (like Gillespie) are trying too hard. On the technical level the movie—shot on the campus of Elmhurst University outside Chicago, not far from the fictional Shermer—is barely competent. The production design is by Kerri Lyn Walsh, the camerawork by Pete Biagi, the editing by Michael Thomas James, and the score by Rob Rettberg (who also supervised the pop songs periodically inserted into the background).
Presumably Celozzi, who has a long but undistinguished résumé as an actor, producer, writer and director, is a fan who wanted to celebrate John Hughes’ classic high-school dramedy by imitating it. But the copy doesn’t come within miles of the original.