- Movie Rating -

The Principal (1987)

| September 11, 1987

What universe does this movie occupy?  Early on I resigned the fact that it was dealing in the real world.  Here is a hyper-violent high school action picture in which a man with serious anger-management issues is assigned to be the principal of a school that is one half-education and one half-Escape from New York, all in the name of an apparent revenge fantasy for beleaguered teachers.  Either make Blackboard Jungle or Walking Tall.  You can’t have it both ways.

The anger management issues belong to Rick Latimer (Jim Belushi) a high school teacher who, as the film opens, is sitting in a bar watching his ex-wife get friendly with the attorney who represented her in their divorce case.  His response is to introduce a baseball bat to the man’s Porsche.  Naturally he is arrested.  Then, for reasons bowing to the fact that the movie needs something to happen outside of having him prosecuted and jailed, he is promoted to principal of Brandel High, one of those Movie Schools, an inner-city hellhole strewn with graffiti and violent crime.  This is not promotion for Latimer, it’s punishment.  Brandel is giving the school board a bad name and they hope that this man’s tough image will help turn things around.

Turning things around, for Mr. Latimer, begins with a school assembly where he announces his “No More” policy.  That policy is rebuked by Victor Duncan (Michael Wright) a vicious gang leader who not only seems to come out of another movie but seems way to old for high school (the actor is 31).  What follows is Belushi’s Buford Pusser-style induction of trying to clean up the school while, of course, going to war with Duncan, a man so feared that even the school’s chief of security (Lou Gossett, Jr.) steers clear. Latimer becomes a latter-day vigilante for the institution of learning, which includes violent interactions, riding a motorcycle down the hallways and eventually getting involved in a violent shootout.

If you’re looking for a half-track revenge fantasy – particularly if you’re fed up with violent crime then The Principal might do it for you.  I got tired of it pretty quick.  I have no idea what world this takes place in because I know that after trashing that man’s Porsche, this character would have been thrown in jail and afterwards lost his job.  He should have.  That should have been his fate.  How and why he got to be the principal of Brandel is built up so that there can be a movie.  But we are suppose to be sympathetic to this man for his circumstances.  I wasn’t.  Let the chips fall where they may.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Action