Benjamin Maio Mackay
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life - 3 Stars
Mediocre acting with a politically charged plot makes for an interesting children’s film, but the twist will have you in tears.
Imaginative quiet teenager Rafe Katchadorian is tired of his middle school's obsession with the rules at the expense of any and all creativity. Desperate to shake things up, Rafe and his best friends have come up with a plan: break every single rule in the school and let the students run wild.
The whole “stick it to the man” plot has been done before in cinema, especially in young adult cinema. However, this attack on the lack of arts funding and creative empowerment in schools, and the fact teachers teach only to standardised testing is superb. These messages are hardly subtle, but they way they’re included doesn’t feel pushy or tacky. It’s a clever use of art to get a message across.
The acting is very over-the-top and there is no real particular stand-out. There is a twist in the movie, that isn’t overly predictable that will shock audience members of any age. It’s quite heart-wrenching.
Overall this isn’t what I expected, but I was surprised at the film’s political and emotional depths.
Review by Benjamin Maio Mackay
Screening courtesy of Roadshow Entertainment