The erosion of the freedom of speech in U.S. high schools is a timely idea for a movie, but Josh Stolberg's "Kids in America" is not it. Instead of a sharp, caustic satire, Stolberg and co-writer Andrew Shaifer have turned out a comedy so inane and tedious that it buries its premise and its various worthy points under too many arch and improbable shenanigans and endless dialogue, much of it seriously under-inspired.
Julie Bowen plays a close-minded, dictatorial and politically ambitious high school principal whose increasingly censorious policies spark a rebellion, fueled by a progressive teacher's assigning his students to collaborate on a video that will "change the world."
Gregory Smith and Stephanie Sherrin are the film's likable leads, and among the more familiar faces in a large cast are Rosanna Arquette as Sherrin's mother, Elizabeth Perkins as another parent, George Wendt as the school's football coach and Nicole Richie as a cheerleader.
"Kids in America," PG-13 for sexual content, mature thematic elements and language. Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes. In general release.