There was always something funny about watching rock ‘n roll movies from the ‘50s and ‘60s, wherein some twentysomething crooners masqueraded (usually unsuccessfully) as high school students. Several decades later, Hollywood hadn’t changed its formula a whole hell of a lot. Take an early ‘90s cheese-fest like Class Act for example, featuring the popular hip-hop duo of the time, Kid ‘N Play (Christopher Reid and Christopher Martin, respectively).
Since there’s some sort of unwritten law in the entertainment industry that states musicians have to make at least one feature film during their often short careers, there was little shock or surprise when Kid ‘N Play busted onto the big screen in 1990’s House Party. When Class Act hit the screen two years later, however, the shock and surprise finally came to pass: who the hell kept paying for these films to be made? And were there people out there that were actually paying their hard-earned money to see them? I was a high school student during the whole duration of Kid ‘N Play’s cinematic reign of terror, and I never had even the slightest inkling of dropping the five dollars it cost to see any of one of their movies at the Sunday Matinee (five dollars, mind you, that would have been given to me by my parental figures).
But now, though, I see the error of my ways — because Class Act is so hilariously cheesy, that it’s worth watching at least once in your lifetime.
The story (what there is) gives us another take of the trusty ol’ mistaken identity motif: Duncan Pinderhughes (“Kid” Reid), an upstanding straight-A of a student, is forced to enroll into an urban high school in order to get the physical education scores he needs to be able to transfer into Harvard. Meanwhile, bad boy Blade Brown (“Play” Martin, who looks a lot like a black Hitler from time to time in this one) is instructed by his parole officer to go back to school as a condition of his release from prison. Thanks to a mishap in the records department, everyone thinks nerdy Duncan is a bad-ass mutha, while Blade is idolized by all of the bookworms and geeks.
Taking a look at Class Act now, it’s obvious that I didn’t miss much back in the ‘90s, but I’m also fairly confident that I would have liked this Kid ‘N Play entry a lot more than I would have their House Party trilogy. Why, even the cameo appearance by the annoying Pauly Shore didn’t incite me to reach for the remote control.
But now, more than ever, the cheese-factor of Class Act is probably what makes it fun. It’s a very light-hearted film that doesn’t ask you to take it seriously. And as much as I never thought I would say this, it’s a blast to see the wonderfully garish ‘90s color schematics in full force once again. The purples. The greens. The browns. All mixed in with various shades of baby-shit yellows. In the words of Charlton Heston: “It squashes a man’s ego.”
That, and there’s just something amusing about two musicians in their late twenties pretending to be high schoolers.
While the entire House Party series has been available on home video for some time now via “traditional” DVD, Class Act has only recently made its digital debut via Warner Home Video’s “Archive Collection,” a series of movies straight from the Warner Brothers vaults that are manufactured direct to DVD-R. Usually, the audio/video aspects of an Archive Collection title takes a backseat to the fact that you’re finally able to own it on disc period, but, in the case of Class Act, the A/V quality is better than you’d expect.
The film is presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 ratio and boasts a pretty strong color palate (giving the aforementioned baby-shit yellows even more attention!), while the contrast is most adequate. Sound-wise, we’re treated to a Dolby Surround Stereo track, which, frankly, impressed me — especially given the made-to-order status of this title. The only special feature to be found on this title is a theatrical trailer.
As with all of the Warner Archive Collection titles, it is available exclusively from www.warnerarchive.com.
OK, so sure, it’s a cheesy film. In fact, it’s so cheesy that a booster shot of Cheez Whiz is definitely required prior to viewing.
But then, the fact that it’s so cheesy is what makes it worth watching now. Enjoy.