Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
December 17, 2016 by Dennis Amith
“Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” is a fun, rebellious teen film that promotes appreciation of the arts and creativity but also a safe film that the family can watch together and enjoy.
TITLE: Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
FILM RELEASE: 2016
DURATION: 92 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, (2:39:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 DTS Digital Surround Audio Optimized for Late-Night Listening, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Descriptive Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH and Spanish
COMPANY: Lions Gate
RATED: Rated PG
RELEASE DATE: January 3, 2017
Base don the book by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
Directed by Steve Carr
Screenplay by Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer, Kara Holden
Produced by Lepold Gout
Co-Producer: Heidi Santelli, Marty Eli Schwartz
Executive Producer: Steve Bowen, Susan Cartsonis, Michael Flynn, Robert Kessel, James Patterson, Jeff Skoll
Music by Jeff Cardoni
Cinematography by Julio Macat
Edited by Wendy Greene Bricmont, Craig Herring
Casting by Nicole Abellera, Jeanne McCarthy
Production Design by Perry Andelin Blake
Art Direction by Alan Au
Set Decoration by Melinda Sanders
Costume Design by Olivia Miles
Griffin Gluck as Rafe
Lauren Graham as Jules
Alexa Nisenson as Georgia
Andrew Daly as Principal Dwight
Thomas Barbusca as Leo
Retta as Ida Stricker
Adam Pally as Mr. Teller
Luke Hardeman as Shon
Jessi Goei as Bella
Jacob Hopkins as Miller
Isabela Moner as Jeanne
Isabella Amara as Heidi
Efren Ramirez as Gus
Rob Riggle as Bear
Gemma Forbes as Dana
Rafe has an epic imagination, and a slight problem with authority. Both collide when he transfers to a rule-crazy middle school. Drowning in do s and don ts, Rafe and his best friend Leo hatch a plan to expose the principal by breaking every rule in the school s Code of Conduct. As the principal strikes back, Rafe s world, at home and at school, explodes into hilarious chaos in this laugh-filled family comedy based on James Patterson s bestselling book series.
From Steve Carr (director of “Paul Blart: Mall Cop”, “Dr. Dolittle 2” and “Daddy Day Care”) comes “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life”. An adaptation from the popular 2011 novel by James Patterson (creator of the Alex Cross and “Women’s Murder club” series) and Chris Tebbetts.
Featuring a screenplay by Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer and Kara Holden, “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” stars Griffin Gluck (“Just Go With It”, “Private Practice”), Lauren Graham (“Gilmore Girls”, “Parenthood”, “Bad Santa”), Alexa Nisenson (“Constantine”, “Fist Fight”), Andrew Daly (“What Happens in Vegas”, “She’s Out of My League”), Retta (“Parks and Recreation”, “Slackers”, “Fracture”), Adam Pally (“Happy Endings”, “Iron Man 3”, “Dirty Grandpa”), Efren Ramirez (“Napoleon Dynamite”, “Crank”, “Eastbound & Down”), Rob Riggle (“The Hangover”, “21 Jump Street”, “The Daily Show”) and more.
The film would make over $20 million the box office and now “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Lions Gate.
The film introduces us to Rafe Khatchadorian (portrayed by Griffin Gluck), a teenage boy who is transferring mid-year to another school after being expelled from two other schools.
Rafe is more interested in putting his creativity towards creating art but his mother Jules (portrayed by Lauren Graham), a single mother (who is still grieving after the death of her younger son), tries to get her son prepared for school and his younger sister Georgia (portrayed by Alexa Nisenson) is often the mature one that reminds her brother that he can’t get into any more trouble as Hills Village Middle School is all that he has left.
On the first day of school, he discovers how strict the school is thanks to Principal Ken Dwight (portrayed by Andy Daly) and his Assistant Principal Ida Stricker (portrayed by Retta).
And immediately, he is bullied and to make things worse, when Rafe attends the BaseLine Assessment of Academic Readiness (BLAAR) standardized test assembly, he starts drawing the Principal, but when other students take his art journal and start laughing at Rafe’s portrayal of the principal, Principal Dwight cancels the assembly and Rafe is taken into the principal’s office.
Rafe receives a warning and to punish him, Principal Dwight destroys Rafe’s beloved art journal.
And that’s not the only thing that is causing problems for Rafe, as his mom is now dating Bear (portrayed by Rob Riggle), the ultimate jerk. And he and his sister can’t stand him.
But bummed out about his book being destroyed, his best friend Leo (who also attends the same school) gives him an idea to take revenge on the Principal. And the best revenge is to destroy Principal Dwight’s book…his rule book.
So, Rafe comes up with a plan to strike back at the Principal with a number of pranks. But also impress the girl he likes, Jeanne Galletta (portrayed by Isabela Moner).
“Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). Featuring close-ups with very good detail, the film looks very good as outdoor scenes are colorful and interior scenes are well-lit. The film also features quite a bit of animation segments that represent the characters that Rafe has created, which are vibrant and also colorful.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 DTS Digital Surround Audio Optimized for Late-Night Listening, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Descriptive Audio.
The series is primarily dialogue drive and for the most part, dialogue and music is crystal clear. Surround channels are primarily for crowd ambiance but the overall soundtrack is dialogue and music-driven.
Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.
“Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” comes with the following special features:
- That Middle School Life – (10:56) A making of featurette with interviews with cast and crew.
- Middle School = The Worst/Making Movies = The Best – (5:28) Cast and crew discuss the best and worst part of making the movie.
- The Wedgie Wheel – (2:30) Interviews with cast and crew about wedgies.
- Yolo: Behind Operation Rafe – (6:55) Creating Rafe’s pranks for the film.
- Gagreel – (5:20) Outtakes from “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life”.
- Deleted Scenes – (3:21) Featuring four deleted scenes.
“Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” comes with a slipcover, DVD and an UltraViolet code.
With a lot of middle-school/high school storyline plots revolving around a protagonist that gets into trouble, “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” is a film that revolves around a teen who has been expelled from two middle-schools and is onto his third and final middle school in the area.
A creative person who loves drawing, going to school is a bit of a challenge for Rafe and now he is going to a middle-school in which his life is turned upside-down due to the strict rules of Principal Dwight.
And when the Principal destroys Rafe’s beloved art journal, Rafe and his best friend Leo begin a new project to get revenge by destroying Principal Dwight’s favorite book, his rule book.
The film is no doubt a film about rebelliousness and also celebrating the creativity of Rafe and a message to not stifle one’s creative talent, I found “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” to be much more tolerable than the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” films in which the protagonist is one viewers can start disliking and only until the redeeming final arc is when the protagonist changes enough to know what he did wrong, that everything is all cool again.
For “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life”, Rafe is a creative artist that has no friends, is not into school, doesn’t like his mother’s verbally abusive boyfriend, seeing the struggles of his mother for raising the family but also the fact that his brother died.
While the book goes on to mention that Rafe’s brother died of meningitis when they were toddlers and “Bear” is actually his step-father, I think the storyline works out as Bear is more of a family friend that has been supportive of his mother but also a very huge jerk. And also the ambiguous nature of the death of Leo’s brother which leads to a big reveal towards the end of the film.
Sure, “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” does showcase teen rebelliousness but it’s nothing violent but at the same time, rules or no rules, it does showcase a style of rebelliousness that parents may not like. While others may watch the film and feel it’s not as rebellious as older middle-sch0ol or high school films (especially from the ’80s).
As for the Blu-ray release, detail is very good and colors are vibrant especially for the animation sequences. Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music, while there are a few special features.
Overall, “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” is a fun, rebellious teen film that promotes appreciation of the arts and creativity but also a safe film that the family can watch together and enjoy.
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