A substandard version of The Usual Suspects mixed with an extensive amount of Charlie Bartlett's unorthodox humor (which unfortunately doesn't quite suit my penchant for amusement), Assassination of a High School President is mid-level entertainment with a few decent laughs and way too much solemnity for this type of film. It's in desperate need of loosening up. However, the lead character is likable and Bruce Willis's much too minor role is something that should have been expanded. It's him and his distaste for gum-chewing that provides the majority of the laughs and makes this film more than a typical high school comedy.
Mistaken for a freshman, sophomore Bobby Funke (Reece Daniel Thompson), whose name is predominately mispronounced as "Funky" throughout, is the writer for the school newspaper, a loner who is assigned to do an article on the class president and school jock, Paul Moore. But his attempt to write an article for the newspaper gets sidetracked when the SAT tests are stolen. Now Bobby is on the search for the one who stole the SAT tests, gaining stud status in the process, and more importantly, discovering why it was done in the first place.
Nothing more than an up and down stream of chuckles, director Brett Simon's feature debut is a minor success. There are more decent moments here than there are instants that fall apart at the seams, which is saying quite a bit for a full-length debut. Assassination of a High School President may gain minor cult status with its combination of awkward bits of humor and comparison to other high school comedies. It just doesn't amount to something I would watch again.
Many of its attempts to be awkward wind up being strangely prim, bloated, and straight-laced (they lost me with the smoking toothpaste scene). Others hit the mark with precise, effective, and intelligent giggles. I would recommend Assassination of a High School President to those who enjoyed Charlie Bartlett, which decidedly wasn't my cup of tea. However it exceeded Bartlett's standard, which is a plus.
The special features include alternate opening scenes that are both amusing and provide some foundation for the film's characters, some deleted scenes that I found to maintain some of the film's potential, a few extended scenes that were blotted out for maximum potential, and filmmakers' commentary.