That obviously wasn’t the typical experience for the American high school. Score another one for the coastal elites, I guess. As soon as I got the Internet, I set my home page to ACLU.org (you DEFINITELY wanted to be my friend in high school, no nerdo) and freaked out about the INJUSTICES being done to my fellow students across the country. Tinker v. Des Moines, amiright?
And that brings us to Not Like Everyone Else, a movie about post-Columbine hysteria leading to the suspension of a student who is just a little bit different.
That student is Brandi Blackbear, played by cutie-patootie Alia Shawkat (aka Maeby/Shirley Funke from Arrested Development). Brandi is one of those gothy creative types. Her hair is raven black. There is too much eyeliner. She writes about the lemmings that make up the popular kids at school. ANGST!
Jesus. Tone it down. We get it.
The movie opens with a media circus as the Blackbear family appears at a courthouse. They are suing the bejesus out of the school district for suspending Brandi for witchcraft. It looks like the population is on Team School District.
What kind of backwoods place would suspend a girl for witchcraft and have that be celebrated by a bunch of backwood yokels?
Oklahoma? Ok. That makes sense.
Bonus! I watched this movie with a real life American Indian from Oklahoma. I got the inside scoop on what it’s really like in the Oh Kay. Apparently the Lifetime version of Oklahoma has a lot more black people than the reality.
So we flash back to April, 1999, immediately after Columbine. The high school is installing security cameras and metal detectors. Brandi does not approve. The popular kids – for no reason other than this is what popular kids do, I guess – do not approve of Brandi. They go to the principal and accuse Brandi of having a hit list. The principal thinks this is pretty dumb but needs to look into it since all those kids just got murdered.
It’s weird that they introduce the principal as sympathetic considering he spends the rest of the movie acting like a supervillain.
Brandi has her bag searched and they find some poetry or lame short story that mentions killing something or other. Angst, angst, angst. Brandi is suspended for an entire semester.
Life ain’t so grand for Brandi at home either. The folks are behind on the mortgage and are picking up extra shifts left and right. The mom is ok but the dad is a real asshole. He forces Brandi to cook for the family when mom is working the late shift at the diner. He doesn’t allow Brandi to talk on the phone and won’t make eye contact with her. Some real Evil Stepmother type stuff. He won’t even take her to the Medicine Man! He only takes his son.
So Brandi is out of school and then she goes back. But everyone thinks she’s evil. When she starts checking out books from the school library about Wicca, more trouble starts. She gets accused of being a witch. She reacts by sarcastically yelling at her tormentors that she was indeed a witch and had cast a spell that put her teacher in the hospital.
The ACLU takes notice and goes all, “No, You Didn’t!” They sue for every last cent that the school district has to spare. That school will be so poor, the cafeteria will depend on the services of Rose of Sharon to feed its students.
In some kind of disposition type dealie, Brandi admits that she still has her friends and is doing ok. That is not a good thing to say when you are suing for emotional distress and loss of friendship. Case over.
But it’s ok since Brandi’s evil dad read her diaries when she was asleep and totally gets her now. They are buds. He takes her to the Medicine Man. Because that’s exactly how you make your kid feel happy and accepted. You drag their ass to church.
The two hours flew by faster than a normal Lifetime movie, but that’s kind of damning with faint praise. There are no chuckles to be had here. And a lot of the movie is Brandi sitting around being suspended. It’s far too low impact to be considered awesome.
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 4
This got DVRed because of the presence of Ms. Shawkat. I got pissed when I saw The Runaways in the theater because she didn’t get enough lines. Also, the movie was terrible. But it could have been saved by Alia Shawkat. Please ignore the irony that she couldn’t save this piece of shit.
Brandi’s mom is played by Illeana Douglas, an actress who I really like despite not seeing in her in anything other than 15 seconds of Goodfellas.
The movie doesn’t really fit the Lifetime template. I guess the women in the family are fantastic and wonderful while the men are cretins. I guess that’s something?
GRAND TOTAL: 13
Woof. But don't fret, I watched this as a double bill with Harmony. She gets to write about a way better movie. Coming soon, kids!