January 15, 2018

GENRE | Learning to Have 'Adventures in Public School'

VIFF 2017 Must See BC | Daniel Doheny Kyle Rideout | Public Schooled

Adventures in Public School (formerly titled Public Schooled) is an endearing, if highly unconventional, Canadian teen comedy about a very awkward boy and his way too close relationship with his young mother. Co-writer/director Kyle Rideout deftly tells a small story of fitting in and navigating the perils of high school after a life of shelter and home schooling in a touchingly humorous manner.

The luminous Judy Greer and utterly likeable Daniel Doheny star as mother and son, Claire and Liam. They show a sparkling chemistry filled with love, affection, frustration, and combativeness. It's a difficult but mostly successful balance on the screen as the pair have to navigate constantly shifting from being best friends to a teacher/student relationship and then an overbearing parent managing a rebellious teenager, all rather seamlessly.

The lean cast of supporting players is uniformly sweet and salty including Siobhan Williams as an endearing one-legged love interest, Andrew McNee playing the aloof principal, Alex BarimaGrace Park, Andrew Bang, and Russell Peters as the wacky guidance counselor. Every bit player has their nice, little part in advancing the mother/son story of overcoming their crippling codependency.

VIFF 2017 Must See BC | Judy Greer Daniel Doheny Kyle Rideout | Public Schooled

Rideout and co-writer Josh Epstein use high school comedy genre conventions and turn them ever so slightly with sweet little twists where earnest emotions and feelings replace the dire cynicism of the high school environment. The script expresses the unhealthy, codependent mother/son relationship in interesting ways where Liam's yearning for personal and social growth drives Claire's own anxieties and neediness in unexpected ways.

Rideout's film is so joyous in its straightforward exploration in compacting the entire high school experience into only a few months where self-growth and rebellion are treated more like acts of adventure instead of dragged out phases of angst or defiance. Adventures in Public School is a fairly winning story of an atypical high school experience in an otherwise very typical setting.

Adventures in Public School screened at the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival as part of the Sea to Sky and BC Spotlight streams. It also screens for the TIFF-curated Canada's Top Ten Film Festival at The Cinematheque (and across the country) with Rideout and Doheny in attendance.

Update: The film opens in select theatres on April 27th.


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