Mean Movies. Mean Movies is a term I made up myself, which refers to films so awful that they make your brain hurt, your stomach turn and your bowels open. One such movie, for example, is the 2014 movie named Expelled. Let this post serve as a review; A monument to how horrible this film is.
I found this movie on Netflix with my girlfriend, with the description reading it was about a prankster pulling pranks on people at his school and, in all fairness, it sounded interesting… Boy, were we wrong. The main character, Felix O’neil (Played by Cameron Dallas), is the prankster. He is expelled from the school in the first scene of the movie and, immediately afterwards, I knew I was going to be in for one hell of a ride trying to comprehend why this film was made. The actor portraying our “hero”, Cameron Dallas, is a twenty year old man (at least he was when the movie was made) who plays the role of a sixteen or seventeen year old in high school. He doesn’t look the age of the character, which is a little distracting. But honestly that’s a light criticism in comparison to what’s to come.
This movie is formatted like a YouTube video. If any of you have seen the FRED movie, or its sequels, you’ll know what I mean. For those of you that don’t, I mean that the main character, Felix, spends a good thirty percent of the movie talking to the audience, directly into the camera, while all the other characters are unable to do so. It’s as if everyone else is aware they are in a movie, but he is someone constantly breaking the fourth wall because he thinks he’s in some teen Vlog. This is another distracting element of the film because he’ll be stood side-by-side with his friends, talking to the camera, but his friends won’t be looking at the camera, because they’re unaware of us, and then Felix will turn to continue talking to them and the conversation will progress as if Felix totally didn’t stop to inform the audience on what the hell is going on. Again… This is a light criticism in comparison to what’s to come.
The whole reason why this movie is formatted like a YouTube video probably stems from the fact that this movies main cast is comprised of Vine stars and people who have been on YouTube. Cameron Dallas, for example, has an IMDB page that essentially consists of two paragraphs of how he blew up on social media, and literally two or four sentences about his life.
It gives us a clear statement about how interesting he must be.
But this whole YouTube format doesn’t work in movies, because it doesn’t immerse the audience. When we watch a film we want to be engaged as if we’re actually there, but if someone is constantly talking at us, it reminds us we are not there and that we are just passively watching. You might argue that Deadpool talks to his audience, and that’s a good engaging movie, and you would be right. But the difference between Deadpool and Expelled is that when Deadpool talks to us, it is to tell a joke or make us laugh for the sake of comedy, but when Felix O’neil talks to us, it is to give us exposition on stuff they were either too lazy to show us, or simply didn’t want too; It’s pure exposition, and not excitement. Thus, it ruins immersion. Not that this movie is anything to get excited about… Like, at all.
Anyway, Felix gets expelled from school and then him and his friends have a “whacky” and “fun” adventure about trying to keep his parents from finding out he was expelled. Felix does this by using his incredible superpowers of:
1) Lying to his parents about literally everything.
2) Housing his brother, who escaped from some prison, in his attic until he is found.
3) Breaking into the school at night to forge his grades and then running away from the police, before having the audacity to suggest he is totally in the right.
4) Hacking into the school computers at least three to four times to find his grades, attendance and sort out any stuff his parents could potentially find out about.
5) Blackmailing the Dean of the school into enrolling him again, because he found out the Dean stole ten thousand dollars from the school to fuel his online gambling addiction.
Now you know why I previously used the word “hero” in quotation marks.
None of what I have listed above is an exaggeration. This character, Felix, is depicted to us as a hypocritical lying asshole. He lies to his parents… He later tells generic love interest he wants to stop lying… He then, in the finale, blackmails the Dean into lying to his parents for him. For the entire movie, he takes advantage of his friend by having him hack into the schools systems. In fact, he only ever speaks to this friend when he wants something and never for a cheeky bit of banter. This leads to them falling out. Felix apologises… But then immediately asks him to hack into the school again, seconds after the apology.
This character is an asshole; An unlikeable dick who bullies people when he doesn’t get his own way. When his ex-girlfriend refuses to help him, he embarrasses her in the school play by interrupting her solo song and flying around on a rope on the stage, resulting in props all falling over. For some reason he is proud and we are meant to find it funny, so the whole incident is treated like a normal thing.
Felix deserves literally everything bad that ever happens to him… He has his brother, who has escaped a prison-school hybrid, shoot a knock-out dart into the leg of his chemistry teacher so he can’t attend a parent-teacher conference. What the hell? We’re supposed to be rooting for this guy? We’re supposed to be rooting for someone who will cause physical harm to others and commit crimes to keep up a lie?
Yeah, um, no thanks.
There is no character ark. He is an asshole in the beginning and an asshole by the end. The only change is that he has a generic girlfriend who gives him a little kiss at the end. Remember the Dean who stole money from the school, who Felix had hard evidence on? Felix didn’t even turn him in. Neither our lacklustre “hero” or thieving Dean faced any consequences for the crimes they have committed. For a movie aimed at kids and young teens, you would assume some kind of message would have to be attached to this product. But there isn’t. Nothing bad that happens is met by consequences, only by possible solutions; And all of those solutions solve the problem, conveniently for our main characters. Are they trying to tell the young audience this is how the world works? Because if they are, the audience is in for one hell of a surprise.
You might be sitting there thinking “This movie is rated 12 (PG-13 in America), so why did he say its primarily targeted at kids and young teens?” Good question. I’m here now to answer it.
You see, every joke in this movie is about buttholes, cheap tricks, silly pranks and whacky antics. The whole film is child friendly… Or so it seems. You see I found a very dark(ish) joke in there… A hidden joke… A dark(ish) joke masked by the smiling face of a Viner and a handful of childish remarks to drown it. When conspiring to break into the school, Felix suggests his friend should first steal the janitors keys. His friend disagrees and says, “No way, the guy looks like Jeffery Dahmer.”
If you don’t know who Jeffery Dahmer is, look him up and then ask yourself, “Why is this joke in a kids movie?”
Look, I think I’m contracting a terminal illness by simply recalling this film, so I’m going to wrap it up. This film is awful. The acting is awful, as none of the lead cast are actually actors but instead Viner’s and YouTubers. The plot is dumb, nonsensical and fragile, even by lower-budget kids movie standards. Finally, every character in this film except for the generic love interest, the teachers and Felix’s parents is an asshole… It begs the question why anyone loves him. But since this film has a whole section of Cameron Dallas walking around shirtless, constantly facing the camera in mid-shots to show off them abs, we can only assume that the twisted mind of whoever thought this movie was a good idea to make, thinks that pretty people get a pass from being assholes. One out of ten, not IGN, would not watch again.