Sunday, May 10, 2020

Bad Education: Stunning Story, Versatile Cast Make This a Great View

Movie Review: Bad Education (2019)
Version: HBO on demand

Make sure you watch Bad Education, as much to see three versatile actors show their craft as for the stunning story it is.

Hugh Jackman is as good as it gets, always playing such an amazing array of characters from hit musicals to intense dramas. Here, he is the lead as a popular small town school superintendent, Frank Tassone, whom we find has been playing the community as his mark for a life of ease and luxury.

Allison Janney has become synonymous recently for a slew of amazing character roles of great depth, and here she plays Pam Gluckin, business manager to the school system, who has been dipping into the till and hiding it. She adds depth with her emotional portrayal of Gluckin and her reaction to getting caught and her sense of betrayal when the school board takes her down. This is Janney at her best as a seasoned actor taking a good script and making the material her own.

Ray Romano is a comedian turned recently into dramatic actor, and he is amazing as Big Bob Spicer, school board president, caught between wanting to do what's right and what is best for the future of the community and the kids under his leadership of the board. He well portrays the confusion and worry and conflict this character would feel with the credibility of a well heeled actor. It takes years of acting to be this good, and Romano has it down pat.

Bad Education is based on a true story. Tassone and Gluckin took their town for millions of dollars over several years. Tassone was loved by parents and students alike, taking care of his people. But he also took care of himself, taking money from the till to live a lavish lifestyle. Gluckin paid the school system's bills, ran a tight ship, and got the system through a key bond vote. But she also charged personal purchases through the school system's charging system and laundered the accounts. Things began to unravel when someone got sloppy. And then there was the time Tassone challenged a journalism student to take her routine school paper assignment about the bond proposal beyond the routine, and she took it to heart.

The script itself isn't amazing. The dialogue isn't memorable. There's nothing amazing about the cinematography or editing or musical score. This is just a well acted drama and an intriguing story by which you will find yourself gobsmacked by every moment.

This looks to be available only on HBO. It's well worth tuning into.

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