Four archetypes dominated comedies of class conflict in the 1980s: straight men (and women), noxious authority figures, lovably insufferable boors and the medically retarded. All are prevalent in Golan-Globus's foray into Animal House territory, which - despite its hopeless predictability - is nearly as funny as it is stupid.
While spoiled, uncouth laggard Dana Olsen is horrified by a paternal caveat entailing a suspension of theretofore limitless funds if he fails to graduate from prep school after his seventh year of attendance, spastic schlemiel Judd Nelson is pursued by goons dispatched by bookie Anthony "Dice" Clay (oddly, among the least sordid of this picture's male cast). In exchange for $10K and a Porsche, Nelson assumes Olsen's identity in matriculation to the Anglosphere's very worst preparatory institution. As expected, he wreaks havoc, wears unspeakably atrocious attire and falls in love with a rich girl.
An abundance of hilarious physical and sight gags
Fine comic delivery from the entire cast
Another lovely, tongue-in-cheek score by the estimable Basil Poledouris
A romantic sub-plot possessed of a pulse and arc
Dorian Walker's notably deft direction
Nelson's breakdancing stand-in, to whom he conspicuously bears no resemblance whatsoever
Olsen's lubricious date with his long-term girlfriend, perhaps the most rhapsodic of all committed to film:
One-quarter of the jokes fall flat
Its running time is twenty-odd minutes too long
The aforementioned breakdancing was cut with a rare incompetence
Dice is as threatening as any other echo of Travolta
Every single plot point is effortlessly divinable
In the annals of snobs vs. slobs fare, Making the Grade may assume a footnote for being a cut above average, funnier than most flicks of its type and - save a few exceptionally hysterical scenes - ultimately forgettable. It's also superior to 90% of ostensibly comedic movies evacuated from the bowels of Hollywood into nationwide distribution over the course of the past twenty years.
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About the reviewer
Robert Buchanan (rbuchanan)
I'm a bibliophile, ailurophile, inveterate aggregator, dedicated middlebrow and anastrophizing syntax addict. My personality type is that of superlative INTJ.
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