Movie Face-Off: Bad Education vs. Keanu

Movie Face-Off Image

Movie Face-Off is a feature that pits two movies sharing the same genre against each other, and comparing them in terms of the thematic, dramatic, stylistic and/or technical aspects. And only one shall emerge victorious!

Bad Education (2016) VS Keanu (2016)

Or should I say The Brit vs The Yanks?

Bad Education and Keanu both represent the first feature lenght outing of talented comedians Jack Whitehall, and the duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. Both of them bursting into the comedic scene during the year 2012, Whitehall with his stand-up that won him King of Comedy from the British Comedy Awards, and Key and Peele with their Peabody Award winning sketch show Key and Peele. Now let’s see how they fare in their respective debut, solo starrers.


The Story

Bad Education: Goofy, semi-irresponsible teacher, Alfie Wickers (Jack Whitehall) takes his class on a field trip to Cornwall (supposedly Las Vegas but it didn’t fly with the board) for some good ol’ “educational” experience, and by educational, Alfie means the opposite. Enter overbearing parent and chaperone Susan Poulter (Joanna Scanlan) who puts a monkey wrench on his plans. But it turns out Mrs. Poulter is the least of his worries.

Do you remember Bad Teacher (2011)? The Cameron Diaz starrer? Don’t worry, Bad Education is nowhere near as mean-spirited and terrible as that one. Bad Education is more pleasant and has more meat to the story than the former. But here’s the deal, I liked the beginning of the movie. It is light and cheery. But as it progressed, the tone started to go dark and weird, with the class getting caught up in some radical separatist hoopla. I don’t know. I wanted it to be what it promised to be in the first half, not some over-the-top story involving revolutionaries.

Keanu: Kitten narrowly escapes a gang shoot out. Ends up on the doorstep of stoner, bum Rell (Jordan Peele), who is in the process of getting over a breakup, and failing miserably. Kitty then helps bring Rell out of the doldrums. Rell goes out for movie night with A-type cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key). When Rell gets home, he finds his place ransacked. Kitty goes missing. Rell and Clarence discovers kitty has been catnapped by gangsters. Rell and Clarence embark on a rescue mission into the dark, depths of gangland.

Sounds like a pretty inspired premise to me. Well, it’s nothing out of the ordinary if you consider the sensibilities of Key and Peele. Now that I think about it, it is basically a Key and Peele sketch, only longer. But yeah, I like it. I think it works. And my gosh, the kitten is so adorable, it hurts. You wouldn’t question the fact that full-grown men, gangsters even, would go to all sorts of trouble just to protect little Keanu, who seems oblivious to everything and is actually in no real danger! You know the “cub cues protective parent” trope? How about the “cuteness proximity trope”? Those are Keanu’s superpowers, and it is played to hilarious proportions. But I admit, there are parts that I felt were too stretched out. Like the Anna Farris cameo for one. The whole time I kept thinking: Is Chris Pratt going to show up? Is Chris Pratt going to show up?! And lo and behold! ……he doesn’t show up. Anyway, what I am saying is, there are moments where events are overplayed and overextended.

Winner: Keanu

The Jokes

Bad Education: The jokes lean more on the crass and obscene side. A prosthetic phallus makes an appearance about four times in the course of the film. And Jack Whitehall has his pants down about twice. I mean sure, I don’t mind the occasional crude joke, but when there’s too much of it, it becomes a tired schtick.

Keanu: Keanu’s central joke is the whole mistaken identity bit. Rell and Clarence are regular, suburban joes mistaken for bad-ass gangsters. So they had to fake it till they make. And people doing voices and impressions? That’s my kind of comedy. And funny verbal sparring? That’s my jam too. And kitties running away from a massive mayhem in slow mo? It’s like this thing was made just for me!

Winner: Keanu

The Actors

Bad Education: Jack Whitehall has been doing excellent the past couple of years. And why shouldn’t he be, he is adorable. And I think the only reason I was able to sit through this movie is because I am partial to him, and that posh, man-child persona he does so well. And he wears Alfie Wickers like a familiar old shirt. (That and the fact that I just got off of watching the last season of this other TV series he’s in, Fresh Meat. Gawd, I am going to miss this show!) But the rest of his class seems very stereotypical, none of them stood out for me. I don’t know how it is in the tv series, but they seem uninspired, these group of kids. That and the fact that they weren’t really given anything much to do except tag along the Whitehall train, and jump when they are told to jump.

Keanu: Key and Peele is basically doing Key and Peele. This isn’t really a stretch for them. And that’s fine, because for your first movie outing, I think it’s best to do what you’re good at.

Winner: Tie!

The Technical

Bad Education: Well, their isn’t much technical details to talk about in a movie like this. That is if you don’t count the prosthetic penis. It has some gorgeous scenery of Cornwall though. And yeah, the look and feel is a little more than a low-budget tv movie, I’ll give it that.

Keanu: The biggest difference between Keanu and a Key and Peele sketch is that they have these montages, really well executed montages of Keanu running amidst gunfire and gangs in slow mo. And it is fantastic. And Key and Peele has some excellent action sequences too, like The Matrix excellent.

Winner: Keanu

Champion: Keanu 

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