Release Date: November 21st, 2006 (Clearview Chelsea 9, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Regal Union Square) by Fox Searchlight Pictures.
The Cast: Richard Griffiths, Frances de la Tour, Stephen Campbell Moore, Clive Merrison, Samuel Barnett, Dominic Cooper, Jamie Parker, Sacha Dhawan, Samuel Anderson, Andrew Knott, Russell Tovey, James Corden, Penelope Wilton, Adrian Scarborough.
Directed by Nicholas Hytner.
Interview with Nicholas Hytner
BASIC PREMISE: With the assistance of two teachers, Hector (Griffiths) and Irwin (Moore), a group of prep school students strive to get accepted into Cambridge or Oxford University. Based on the play of the same title.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Despite decent performances from its lively cast, The History Boys mostly falls flat as a drama, comedy and even during its brief musical scenes. None of the characters, including the students: Posner (Barnett), Dakin (Cooper), Timms (Corden), Scripps (Parker), Lockwood (Knott) and Rudge (Tovey). They all have a great time in class with their general studies teacher, Hector, who has quite unconventional methods of teaching them history—i.e. stripping Dakin down to his boxers during a reenactment of a war. The school’s headmaster (Merrison) walks in to check on all the noise just as Hector gropes Dakin. Frances de la Tour gives a lively performance as Dorothy, a strict history teacher who doesn’t quite sympathize with Hector. During the molestation ordeal, a young graduate student, Irwin, gets hired to teach the boys history at the same time that Hector teaches. The screenplay by Alan Bennett doesn’t come together with enough snappy and witty dialogue or interesting characters—although a few lines of dialogue do result in some dry laughter. Although this film version delves deeper into the students’ lives than the play, there’s still not enough going on to truly care about Posner’s struggle with homosexual feelings or even whether or not any of them get into the college they want to. Director Nicholas Hytner does include some impressive cinematography, especially during a flash-forward scene, and makes the best out of using mostly one setting—the prep school—with only brief exterior scenes. Unfortunately, there’s not enough going on in the meandering plot and the characters feel too dull to consistently hold your attention during the seemingly long running time of 109 minutes.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: A meandering plot with dull characters.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 4
IN A NUTSHELL: Mildly entertaining with decent performances and a lively cast, but suffers from a meandering plot and dull, forgettable characters.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD
The "H" Menu