School Ties

“I was kinda shocked when I found out this movie existed. How had I never heard of a film that starred an itty bitty (it was 1992) Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, pre-Robin Chris O’Donnell, Ben Affleck (who is only minimally in it, but gets put on the cover now because he’s Ben Affleck), and Anthony Rapp (for all you Rent-heads out there)?

Set in a 1950s elite prep school, Brendan Fraser is recruited from his poor and humble hometown, and brought in on scholarship to quarterback for the football team. In fear of being even more marginalized from the privileged boys he is now living with, he feels forced to hide his Jewish heritage. All he wants to do is keep his head down, win some football games, and ride the scholarship into a Harvard admission. But of course, life has other plans.

In answer to my earlier question of how I had not heard of this movie, I think I know exactly why. Dead Poets Society. Released just a few years apart from each other, both set in boys prep schools in the 50’s, they have a nearly identical look at feel. There’s even strong similarities in some of the B plots. I won’t debate which film is better than the other, especially since they cover very different subject matter once you get past the surface, but I think we all know which one resonated better over time. Let’s just say only one got a recent instant classic SNL parody.

If we’re being really honest, I mix up scenes from the two of them in my head all the time. As I was watching, I had to keep googling things to verify they were in one movie vs the other. I’d almost recommend against seeing this unless you have a very solid image of Poets in your head, lest you confuse the two as well.

I’d say almost recommend because the story is a very compelling and important one. The type of discrimination that happens here occurs often in different permutations, and there is just as much to learn from it today as any other.

Plus, it’s a fantastic and very underappreciated performane from Matt Damon, pre-Will Hunting. That itself is worth a watch!”

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