Review: The Prankster DVD

STUDIO: Strand Releasing | DIRECTOR: Tony Vidal | CAST: Madison Riley, Devon Werkheiser, Maiara Walsh, Michaela Watkins, Jareb Dauplaise, Ken Davitian
RELEASE DATE: 9/28/2010 | PRICE: DVD $24.99
BONUSES: commentary, featurettes, blooper reel
SPECS: NR | 117 min. | Comedy | 16:9 widescreen | stereo | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Teen farce The Prankster cleverly sidesteps the years-old teen movie formula that reduces the complexity of high school politics into a handful of simple and familiar factions (the jocks, the nerds, etc.) whose respective members inevitably discover how banal their mutual exclusion of others has been. (The Breakfast Club, anyone?)

In the independent film The Prankster, the kids’ associations and the labels they wear do not wholly dictate their personalities. In this world, jocks become jazz musicians, slackers become ‘A’ students and straight-laced students let their impulses go.

Concerning a team of teenagers who attempt to sabotage their school’s draconic administration with a series of very creative pranks, The Prankster features a slew of talented young actors, many seeking here to break out of their Disney/Nickelodeon origins. And impressively for an indie film, none are without significant acting resumes.

The most recognizable faces are Maiara Walsh (Ana from Desperate Housewives) and Devon Werkheiser (Ned from Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide) and, on the grown-up side, Ken Davitian (Azamat from Borat).

Despite its original streaks, The Prankster does borrow a lot from the innumerable movies of its genre that have come before. For example, there is the obligatory sports scrimmage against the jocks, the bathroom swirly, the forbidden inter-clique romance, the benign school-wide insurrection and the talent competition showdown.

But director Tony Vidal coaxes some convincing performances from his charismatic cast, and the simultaneously broad but focused plot does, on the whole, succeed.

A director’s commentary and a pair of featurettes on the production are included in the supplemental materials of the DVD.


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About Alex

Alex Kikuchi loves movies of every size and variety and has fancied himself a film critic ever since Mystery Science Theater made it look so easy when he was a kid in the 1990s.