The Faculty

“The Faculty is one of Hollywood’s most tragically misunderstood and overlooked movies. It was released in ’98, right as the slasher movie hype of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer and the myriad of other similar films was dying down. The horror element of this movie lumped it into that category, but I dont actually think it was meant to be taken seriously as a scifi or a horror. If you watch it in the right mindset, you’ll realize, this movie is pure fun, very much a signature of Robert Rodriguez (even if the screenplay was by Kevin Williamson, with RR directing). He’s not trying to scare you. He’s taking a cool idea that we’ve all daydreamed about (what if my teachers actually are aliens) and running with it. It just missed being included in my favorites list, but I’m pretty confident it will find its way onto the list when I finally get around to my long overdue revision.

I’ve said for a while that dialogue is what can make or break a movie for me, but in recent weeks I’ve been noticing that doesn’t necessarily make it the most important element for me. What really draws me in and makes a movie stay with me is strong characters. This movie has both: characters that I still adore to this day, and soundbites that tend to get often quoted by me in conversation (“”I dont believe a person should run unless they’re being chased”” tops the frequency list).

I honestly can’t pick a favorite character from this misfit Breakfast Club. Casey, Stokely, Zeke, Delilah, Stan. This was when Elijah Wood and those gorgeous baby blues first caught my eye. It was years until I learned Clea Duvall’s actual name and stopped calling her Stokely after her outcast goth character I totally vibed with. Josh Hartnett is at his yummiest, also around when his career peaked. Jordana Brewster adds a rare toughness to the head cheerleader. I can’t watch Sean Hatosy and not picture his conflicted quarterback.

Sure this movie is absurd. Aliens take over a smalltown high school. The kids force each other to take homemade drugs to prove they’re still human. Things get blown up for no apparent reason. Gratuitous profanity (sidebar: as a result of watching this edited on network tv, there was a point in time when I started “”swearing”” using the word “”spit””, like Zeke’s “”caffeine and other household “”spit””). But it’s a fun ride. You’ll notice this especially with Rodriguez’ kid films that we’ll get into soon, but the man really does just love to have a good time with his movies. There’s no implied deep intellectual meaning, no philosphy on life, the universe, and everything. Just pure entertainment at its best, and that’s what I \m/ love about him and this movie.

As always, Rodriguez finds a small spot for his muse, Salma Hayek. This time, as the school nurse. This is also the start of an unlikely but reoccurring collaboration with Elijah Wood. Not the first name you’d think to associate with Rodriguez, but the pair do share multiple credits.

My one gripe, the single absurdity that I can’t overlook is how the coupling off at the end of the movie. I just dont buy it. However, it gains back bonus points for the soundtrack.”

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