The School for Good and Evil

  • 05 Nov - 11 Nov, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

It’s a fairy tale as old as time itself and so everything you see here is perhaps like something you would have already seen. Most probably in the Harry Potter franchise from where director Paul Feig (of Bridesmaids fame) borrows generously and blatantly. But the net result isn’t half as good. Not in terms of its elaborate costumes, set design and cinematography that are all Avant grade, but as far as the story and the overall writing is concerned, it’s a damp squib.

The film starts with an exciting premise of two young girls - Agatha (Sofia Wylie) and Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) yearning to escape their town. While a dark-skinned Agatha with a huge volume of curls on her head is a handsome young woman, who is trolled for being a witch, blonde and beautiful Sophie has always believed that she is a princess and destined to do bigger things in life. So staunch is her belief and motivation that she ends up being picked by the big boney bird to be transported to the grand School for good and evil. While trying to stop her, Agatha too gets taken away and the two friends end up in the exact opposite schools. And from here on, begins the grand costume drama that is full of fairy tale stereotypes and clichés. But the makers are aware that they need to show diversity and so we get an assortment of characters of varied descent and colour. While that is refreshing, the abject pointlessness of the narrative is such a dampener that it makes this two and a half hour fantasy feel like a never-ending slob.

Paul Feig goes unconventional in casting his main leads against the often-seen black and white dynamic. So while we have Kerry Washington playing the dean of the school for Good, Charlize Theron is the evil boss woman at the school for Nevers. He shows a similar tact in casting his younger leads but it seems all the attention has gone into creating this grand larger-than-life canvas with a subtle message of diversity, but we wish such dedication was also extended to making the final product entertaining. The grand star cast (including Cate Blanchett as the voice of Storian) does well despite a faltering mediocre script. Visually too, it’s a stunning piece of cinema. It’s got the grandeur and the looks of a compelling costume drama but when it comes to engaging with the audience, Feig’s magic falls woefully short.