If I wanted to stick to the idea of this movie for my review, I’d make it less than 140 characters and post it as a tweet. That’s pretty much how this movie felt, as if every moment had to happen in under 140 characters.
Attempting a synopsis of the film would either be impossible, or would reveal way too many details. I have to wonder if there was a rough synopsis when director Joseph Kahn began the picture in the first place.
It is mocking and embracing our current culture, all at the same time. For the generation brought up on bite-size bits of information, news, and entertainment, the film fits perfectly. It’s also blatantly mocking the fact that people live in tweets and status updates. Who the film is truly for is a mystery, although it does manage to be funny and completely confusing in one breath.
To show just how ADD the film can manage to be, various storylines include, time travel, body swapping, serial killers, revenge, lost love, aliens, Canadians, and teenage social groups. I’m willing to bet that I’ve missed a few in there as well. The film jumps from one idea to the next in about as much time as it would take to watch a YouTube video. Along the way, they cram as many bizarre nods to ’90s culture as they can. So is the film made for people like me who can remember all those references, or is it made for today’s youth who are accustomed to rapid fire thought processes? Honestly, I have no idea.
Somehow I know I’m about to piss off a cinephile, but here goes. Detention reminded me of a couple of French New Wave films that I just watched recently. They made little sense, were full of scene after scene that didn’t seem to depend on what came before, and are more entertaining discussing them after than actually watching. That sums up Detention for me. Where I would normally enjoy a film with an audience, this is one that I would have preferred to watch alone. There is so much going on that I just couldn’t grasp it all at once. The fact that I function less effectively in a crowd wasn’t helping either.
There are times when you can take too many good things, put them together, and wind up with something terrible. Detention isn’t terrible, but it’s really pushing the limits of what I can handle. Scale down some of the insanity in the film and there would be something there. At this point, it’s one idea after another, after another, after another, until your brain can’t handle any more. The one saving grace is that it’s funny. Of course, it’s hard not to hit a joke when every moment has about ten of them. If you didn’t like that first joke, wait about three and a half seconds for the next one.
I’d be interested to find out who enjoys this film, and whether they use social media a lot. It seems designed for people who have become masters at technological multitasking. If you can’t leave the house without your phone, and frequently text in the middle of a conversation, this one is for you. If you’re an old man like me, used to having conversation instead of texting, this one is probably going to make your head hurt.
Under the marquee – Will