October 15, 2009

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St. Trinian’s (PG-13)
A motley group of students attempt a heist to save their bankrupt girls’ school while Rupert Everett (in matronly drag) and Colin Firth make eyes at each other in the strange St. Trinian’s, a weird little frat comedy (starring teen girls instead of college boys) that has washed up on our shores from the U.K.

Camilla Fritton (Everett) runs a girls school where the pretentious Carnaby Fritton (also Everett) dumps his daughter Annabelle (Talulah Riley). She’s horrified. An alumnae of better girls schools, Annabelle is greeted by peeling paint, banged up furniture and a criminal-looking student body. Head girl Kelly (Gemma Arteton) introduces her to the Barbie-looking Posh Totties, the spandex-wearing Chavs, the Emos, the market-playing nerds and the criminal first-years. At first Annabelle wants nothing more than to leave. But eventually, she comes to bond with these girls who, like her, couldn’t fit in anywhere else.

Unfortunately, it’s about then that education minister Geoffrey Thwaites (Colin Firth) decides to point out all that’s wrong with St. Trinian’s and, coming on the heels of a final foreclosure notice, his investigations could spell the end of the school. Though the world seems to be working against them, working for the girls is the fact that Geoffrey was once Camilla’s lover and that they have as their tutor in crime the skuzzy Flash (Russell Brand), offering advice on kidnapping, robbery and con jobs.

St. Trinian’s is so very odd, so very … British. This is not a movie that’s had its slang translated for our American understanding. It seems completely of the culture it is rather broadly parodying. It has many of the same clichés and plot devices as a save-the-underdog frat movie (which is only occasionally made with girls, as in the recent House Bunny) but with more tea and biscuits than kegs and pizza.

Of course, plenty of humor — a dude pretending to be a woman about to kiss another dude — is universal. St. Trinian’s trades primarily in that kind of everyone-gets-a-poop-joke humor. You’ve got Everett in funny wigs, Colin Firth riffing on his Mr. Darcy routine (I’m sure he’s sick of playing a frowny-faced guy with a stick up his bum but he’s made some pretty good money off that one role). The movie is funny in a girls-at-a-slumber-party kind of way. And — keeping in mind that there may be some unspeakably dirty jokes that were simply lost to me in translation — I kind of feel like that’s who this movie is perfect for. Middle school girls hopped up on cookie dough and soda would probably enjoy snorting laughs at the girls of St. Trinian’s. The rest of us are likely to just be confused — what’s with the guy in the wig, what’s a posh totty, why am I watching this? C

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, drug and alcohol content, sexual material and language. Directed by Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson and written by Piers Ashworth, Jamie Minoprio, Nick Moorcroft, Ronald Searle and Jonathan M. Stern, St. Trinian’s is an hour and 37 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by NeoClassic Films.