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by Willie Waffle

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Art School Confidential

Max Minghella stars as Jerome - an art student who desperately wants to get away from the typical high school scene because he, like many of us in high school, does not feel like he fits in. He dreams of going to the stately Strathmore School of Art and meeting the beautiful model in the school's brochure, Audrey (Sophia Myles). However, once he gets there, Jerome learns the university is located in a rough part of town, the competition is fierce, it has its own high school-type hierarchy, he has competition for Audrey's affections, and a serial killer is on the loose.

Art School Confidential starts off as a funny, smart and witty look at this art school subculture and the characters within it, but falls apart as director Terry Zwigoff and writer Daniel Clowes search for a plot that can live up to the myriad of funny and quirky personalities we see in the movie. Minghella is great as the lost soul trying to define himself and win over his dream woman. Ethan Suplee provides some of the movie's most hilarious moments as a film student trying to make a movie about the on campus killings, and Joel Moore matches him laugh for laugh as the wise guy know-it-all who tries to show Jerome the ropes. Plus, we can't forget to mention the wonderful performance by John Malkovich as an instructor who seems to be feeling the strain of a failing career, and Steve Buscemi as the owner of a nearby café that launches many of the artists to fame.

However, while the first half of the movie is fantastic, Art School Confidential is better as a mockery of the scene than it is as a film and a story. The characters are hilariously pretentious, insane, judgmental and painfully trying to be above it all, but Zwigoff has trouble tying it all together with one central story to keep us interested from beginning to end, even with some awesome dialogue from Clowes. The love story between Jerome and Audrey is very compelling as we watch the young man chase the woman of his dreams and cringe as another man enters the picture, but Zwigoff cheats us out of seeing this plot play itself out. Maybe he is trying to avoid the typical, cliché romantic comedy this story lends itself to by never fully committing to it, but seeing that fully developed without the weaker stories of Jerome trying to find fame and the chase after the serial killer would have been a better alternative. Those might be more daring and artistic, but not as interesting, since they are awkward and forced.

Art School Confidential needs some extra credit work to make the grade.

2 Waffles (Out Of 4)

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