Pacing the room and slamming Mountain Dew, Patrick and I brainstorm our barnburner of a film. Chris Klein has already signed on and our mind is on action (and plenty of it, you betta believe). However, when we open the door for our old bag of a stenographer we are taken aback. She’s no old bag at all! Quite the contrary! Did the company not see where we wrote “old bag” in the comment section? Oh well, being consummate professionals we get right to work. She’s efficient and hardworking and together we make quick work of the script. We shake hands with her and provide a glowing review to her temp agency. We offer each other some honest feedback for future improvement. Where boundaries may have been crossed in the name of romance, instead a beautiful professional relationship built on mutual respect had bloomed. After she departs we look at the script. It reads Rich & Poe and boy howdy do these hard-boiled detectives get into some deep undercover action in this action flick. That’s right! We’re watching Underclassman, the Nick Cannon 21 Jump Street knock-off where he’s a cop that has to infiltrate a high school. No doubt we’re gonna have some sweet inappropriate jokes about underage girls and teachers sleeping with students. Can’t wait. Let’s go!
Underclassman (2005) – BMeTric: 51.1
(Wow that started amazingly low. Its creeped up to where I think maybe it should be (mid-4.0s, which is basically really fucking bad … but not so bad you’d have heard of it for being bad). Kind of amazing how hated it is though, I would have imagined this would have just gotten forgotten. Maybe because it was released just as IMDb was coming into their own? You can even see this plot starts basically right when the movie was released which is pretty stunning for a 2005 release. Look at the first scrape!)
Leonard Maltin – BOMB – Pause here for a Jack Webb “uh-huh”: Instead of being canned when he precipitates half a mile’s worth of car-chase damage, barely-literate cop Cannon is assigned to pose incognito as a student at a swanky prep school that’s been victimized by a car-theft ring. Few clichés are missed, including Cannon’s inevitable yen for the campus Spanish instructor (Sanchez). Script is in serious stupor, as if it has spent a month in a locked room with some of Cheech’s old stash.
(Jack Webb was in Dragnet which Leonard is kind of cryptically referencing. This is a very weird review, especially the end. I think Leonard just hates lazy cliché ridden garbage? There is almost no reason this is a BOMB considering some of the other passes he tends to dole out for simple nonsense.)
(Ooooof, that looks absolutely terrible. Terrible race jokes. Terrible sex-with-the-teacher insinuations. Terrible sports scenes. Oh wait, did I say terrible? I meant I am very excited for this film.)
Directors – Marcos Siega – (Future BMT: Chaos Theory; Pretty Persuasion; BMT: Underclassman; Notes: He’s pretty exclusively a television producer/director. He directed a ton of The Following, Dexter, and Vampire Diaries among others. He’s also made quite a few television movies as well.)
Writers – Brent Goldberg (story & screenplay) and David Wagner (story) (as David T. Wagner & screenplay) (as David T. Wagner) – (Known For: The Girl Next Door; Future BMT: Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj; My Baby’s Daddy; Van Wilder: Party Liaison; BMT: Underclassman; Notes: These guys killed it in the early 2000s. They really dropped off the radar in 2005 though, here’s an interview concerning their collaboration from 2004.)
Nick Cannon (story) – (BMT: Underclassman; Notes: He actually has a ton of writing credits, but they are either on concert/music projects or the movies he’s been involved with don’t have enough reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I wish there was a way to know the level of involvement with the “story” Nick Cannon had though.)
Actors – Nick Cannon – (Known For: Chi-Raq; Monster House; Drumline; Bobby; Shall We Dance; Roll Bounce; The Killing Room; King of the Dancehall; American Son; Future BMT: Garfield; Love Don’t Cost a Thing; Whatever It Takes; Goal II: Living the Dream; Men in Black II; Even Money; Weapons; BMT: Underclassman; Notes: Was married to Mariah Carey for eight years, they had a pair of twins (heyyyyyoooo) in 2011.)
Shawn Ashmore – (Known For: X-Men: Days of Future Past; X-Men; X-Men: The Last Stand; X-Men 2; The Ruins; Mother’s Day; Frozen; Strike!; Mariachi Gringo; Future BMT: The Day; Hatchet II; Acts of Violence; Breaking the Girls; The Quiet; BMT: Underclassman; Notes: Played the Iceman in X-Men. Has a twin brother who has mostly been on television, including five episodes of Veronica Mars.)
Kelly Hu – (Known For: X-Men 2; The Scorpion King; The Doors; Strange Days; Americanese; Future BMT: Surf Ninjas; Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man; Wo zhi nv ren xin; BMT: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan; Underclassman; Cradle 2 the Grave; Notes: Was a Miss Teen USA, born in Hawaii.)
Budget/Gross – $25 million / Domestic: $5,655,459 (Worldwide: $5,879,555)
(A complete and utter disaster. Kind of a wonder they released it at all. It was apparently delayed from 2004, so they certainly could have pushed it out onto cable. Although … I suppose the movie does skew a bit old for the Nick Cannon demographic. What a strange strange movie.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 6% (5/83): Despite the appealing presence of Nick Cannon, Underclassman is a shopworn Beverly Hills Cop/ 21 Jump Street knockoff.
(Single digits baby. Nearly one hundred reviews as well, which is nothing to sniff at. That time, around 2005, was a weird time huh? Uwe Boll films, and Nick Cannon in actual movies. Wild. Reviewer Highlight: Almost comically unambitious, Underclassman seldom tries to be funny, and never even attempts to be original. – Nathan Rabin, AV Club)
Poster – UnderSklogins (D)
(I find it incredibly weird that he’s holding his gun like that in the poster… he’s like casually pointing it at the audience. Put that away! You’re scaring the children! I kid because I love… how terrible this all is. Woof.)
Tagline(s) – A Comedy About Upholding The Law And Disturbing The Peace (C-)
Get Ready To Be Schooled (A-)
(Both are on the poster, both are getting judged. First one is terrible. Too long and self-referential like it’s from the old days or something. “A Comedy About…” really? Just do the joke you’re aiming for. Upholding the law and disturbing the peace… Underclassman. Boom. Easy. Second one is better. Clever, hints at the plot, short and sweet. I like it.)
Keyword(s) – undercover; Top Ten by BMeTric: 84.3 Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (1994); 82.2 Barb Wire (1996); 81.1 Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992); 74.9 Taxi (I) (2004); 73.6 Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993); 71.8 Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (2011); 70.4 Big Momma’s House 2 (2006); 70.3 On Deadly Ground (1994); 67.8 Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector (2006); 65.5 Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous (2005);
(Big Momma Like Father Like Son best be there. We’ll probably hit all of these, although the Cable Guy movies will get a bit dicey. There are some things that kind of make you wonder “why am I doing this?” and I have a feeling watching the Larry the Cable Guy movies would be one of those things. Although, I have to admit … he was fine in Madea Christmas, so what do I know?)
Movie Stub – Underclassman (Start-class) – So when I got to this webpage the critical reception and box office response was jammed together. Also the entire thing sounded “non-encyclopedia” and it was suggested that the entire article be rewritten. I wouldn’t go so far, it had the proper structure, it was just a little loosey goosey with the lingo. Finally, I expanded the plot summary to a comfortable 410 words, and re-submitted the article for review. Viola, now that is a start-class wiki page! Actually, I think it is borderline C-class according to the quality guidelines, although some notes about production I think would be needed to put it over the top.
Notes – Originally set for a US theatrical release in 2004. Then two massive waves of layoffs were sustained at Miramax and Dimension, and the infamous Disney and Miramax split reached its height. This film thus remained in the Miramax vaults unreleased during this time of uncertainty. When the Disney and Miramax divorce was finally completed, numerous films under the Miramax and Dimension label were finally released theatrically. (I do love production issues, usually explains a lot)
The scene where Trey shoots Murdock and eventually tackles an undercover DEA agent which results in him explaining that Murdock can’t be a murder suspect because he was out of town on that date is extremely reminiscent of an exact same scene from Point Break (1991) where Tom Sizemore is the DEA agent. (fun fact?)