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This Oscar nominee for Best Live-Action Short Film is an absurdist comedy that careens from one unfunny gag to the next, leaving a hundred-gag pileup in its wake. Set in an Italian middle school, director Andrea Jublin gives us a few peeks into the lives of the stereotypical teens before thrusting his crazed substitute onto the class. This manic juvenile adult leaves the class of students in shock at first, but as he prances around the room like an ADD patient on acid, he forces the students into bizarre behavior to beg for high grades.
Jublin plays Il Supplente so over-the-top that none of the humor hits. The pacing is at a fever pitch from the start, making the audience warn out quickly. In many ways, the often mean-spirited “teacher” reminded me of an Adam Sandler character. Let’s not hope for an American feature length remake. When the supposedly humorous twist arrives, it is no surprise to the audience, because it could only be the logical outcome to the substitute’s actions. The film is trying to embrace the joy of youthful silliness and exuberance, but does so in creating an adult character that doesn’t come off as young-at-heart, but as psychotic. Jublin dedicates the film to “all the people who have problems with conduct.” This class clown has never grown up to discover that his childhood antics were annoying back then, and even more so now that he has grown.
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