Like its quirky protagonist, "Adventures in Public School" isn't for everyone. But this oddball high school comedy from director Kyle Rideout has a distinct voice and a wry sense of humor that sets it apart from the standard teen film.
Liam (Daniel Doheny) has been home-schooled by his overprotective mother — and BFF — Claire (Judy Greer) for his whole life, and his education hasn't suffered. But his interpersonal skills wouldn't earn him a passing grade, and he intentionally fails his GED test so he can attend public school with pretty Anastasia (Siobhan Williams). Liam faces bullies, gets terrible advice from the guidance counselor (Russell Peters) and makes new friends as he rebels against his mother for the first time.
"Adventures in Public School" pushes boundaries with its frequent jokes about a too-close mother-son relationship that may earn more grimaces than laughs as the film goes on. Overall, however, it's an amusing film anchored by engaging performances across the board. With his big, innocent eyes, Doheny plays Liam's naivete and awkwardness well, and we're laughing with him rather than at him as he attempts to fit in. Greer's role as an extreme helicopter parent only works because she's so likable.
The script from Rideout and co-writer Josh Epstein may follow a standard high school comedy structure, but they bring something fresh to the genre with their enjoyably geeky approach.
‘Adventures in Public School’
Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes
Playing at: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood starting Friday