April 27, 2020

SCREEN | Hugh Jackman Teaches A 'Bad Education' on HBO

"I would kill somebody for a carb right now."
Hugh Jackman Allison Janney Cory Finley | Bad Education HBO
HBO Films
Bad Education dramatizes the biggest public school theft in American history set in the Roslyn school district of Long Island, NY when it was uncovered in 2002. Part crime drama and part high school investigation, director Cory Finley deftly tackles small-town corruption in the engaging HBO original film about ethics and morality.

A charismatic Hugh Jackman playing the caring and popular superintendent and head of the central embezzlement scandal has rarely ever been better. He brings a lot of humanity to portraying the public face for education in his town while balancing a clear sense of entitlement and vanity. An always playful Allison Janney acts as a great co-conspirator turned scapegoat with Ray Romano as another level-headed but gullible co-worker.

Actress Geraldine Viswanathan as the curious school reporter (a composite/fictionalized character) serves as our entry point into the scandal through her questioning. Her curious mind and conflicted demeanour about possibly exposing the crimes of her educators makes for a engrossing narrative without being sensational.

Hugh Jackman Geraldine Viswanathan Cory Finley | Bad Education HBO

Screenwriter Mike Makowsky, who was actually a student at the school during/after the events in the film, wrote the screenplay on spec with an obvious enthusiasm for the material. He interviewed many of his old teachers and reveled in dramatizing a local story with zippy flair. Finley and Makowsky's attention to detail and style make the scheme feel perfect for on-screen adaptation.

There's a really compelling procedural element to Bad Education that makes the real-life story particularly engaging. It mishmashes genres including investigative journalism and true crime all in a familiar teen movie setting starring very identifiable small-town adults we recognize (think Election).

Bad Education aired on HBO and is available to stream on Crave in Canada.

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