'Expelled': Film Review
Social media sensation Cameron Dallas plays a conniving high school student in this teen-oriented comedy
Every generation deserves its own Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Unfortunately, this one will have to settle for Expelled, whose chief raison d'etre seems to be the social media popularity of its star, Cameron Dallas. Having amassed a staggering 6 million-plus followers on Vine as well as equally impressive numbers on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, the teen idol actor/entrepreneur is clearly a force to be reckoned with. But his first big-screen starring vehicle is a ramshackle contraption that only serves to illustrate the difference between making an impact in brief Internet videos and feature films.
Sporting swept-up hair, the requisite cool sunglasses and a frequently exposed, impressively toned physique, Dallas plays Felix, the sort of obnoxiously presumptuous high school student who calls the school's principal by his first name. His penchant for pulling outrageous, if not necessarily amusing, pranks results in his getting expelled in the opening scene, with the rest of the film's running time devoted to his elaborate efforts to hide the fact from his hapless parents.
Among those colluding in his schemes is his computer-hacking best friend (Matt Shively); his older brother (Marcus Johns), who has escaped from a private school resembling a maximum security prison; and a comely pizza-delivery girl (Lia Marie Johnson), who seems sensible enough to know better.
The film relies heavily on its young star's presumed charm. He, much like Ferris, frequently speaks directly into the camera to make the audience complicit in his hijinks — except that the constantly smirking Felix throws in the occasional wink as well.
The complicated scenario, involving such things as changing grades, producing a counterfeit report card, drugging a teacher and faking a parent-teacher conference, lacks the exuberant high spirits of the film's obvious inspiration. Suffice it to say that nothing here comes close to matching the giddy delight of Matthew Broderick lip-synching to "Twist and Shout" in the middle of a Chicago parade.
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The adult characters are mainly nondescript, with Emilio Palame's principal failing to match the juicy smarminess that made Jeffrey Jones' similarly styled patsy so indelible. Felix's unwitting mother (Kristina Hayes) is reduced to such bland admonitions as "Don't go blowing yourself up or anything" when she comes upon him messing with some dangerous chemicals.
Witless and charmless, the film written and directed by Alex Goyette (better known as YouTube's "Joule Thief") proves that social media may not be the ideal incubator for big-screen talent.
Production: Awesomeness TV
Cast: Cameron Dallas, Marcus Johns, Matt Shively, Lia Marie Johnson, Andrea Russett, Emilio Palame, Kristina Hayes, Tom McLaren
Director/screenwriter: Alex Goyette
Producer: Alex Goyette, Shauna Phelan, Brian Robbins
Executive producers: Brett Bouttier, Joe Davola, Scott Levine
Director of photography: Jan-Michael Del Mundo
Production designer: Jamie Jacqueline McGuire
Editor: Josh Noyes
Costume designer: Kristen Pielech
Casting: Sheryl Levine
Rated PG-13, 85 min.