For those who tired of the inspirational-teacher subgenre that flourished in the ’80s and ’90s — think Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, Dead Poets Society — there’s Wuss! Exclamation theirs, the film illustrates why I never would want to teach public school in today’s environment, even as a mere sub.
Played by Nate Rubin (Super), Mitch Parker is a wiry little fellow, barely out of high school himself, who substitutes for a high school English class. What he’d really like to do is be a novelist, of course, yet his off-hours are spent in a state of arrested development, playing Dungeons & Dragons with his baked buds.
Mitch radiates awkwardness à la specialists Michael Cera and Mike White, making him a target for everyone, including the principal (Alex Karpovsky, TV’s Girls), who calls him as “Mitch the Bitch.” Mitch’s real problem is his students, specifically the drug-dealing thug Jamal (Ryan Anderson), who beats him up after school and makes his life hell.
Nearly 45 minutes in, that problem is solved all too easily. As that goes away, so does much of the interest on the part of viewers. Now on demand from Film Buff, Wuss! switches gears from a one-man show to a two-man team, as Mitch bonds with the one outcast student (first-timer Alicia Anthony, acting with a Kristen Stewart sleepiness) who takes pity on him and encourages the spine within him to grow.
It does a bit, but their relationship does not — at least not into one interesting enough to match the concerns of the film’s first half. Either writer/director Clay Liford (Earthling) had no idea how to bring things to an end, or the end is just that underdeveloped. Like many students of today, Wuss! shows potential, but not the follow-through. —Rod Lott
Hey! Read This:
• Dungeons & Dragons / Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God Blu-ray review
• Girls: The Complete First Season Blu-ray review
• Super Blu-ray review