Director: Cory Finley
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, Geraldine Viswanathan
Release Date: September 8, 2020
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
HBO Films® presents Hugh Jackman in Bad Education, a critically acclaimed dark comedy based on the unbelievable true story of a scandal that rocked a Long Island school district in the mid-2000s. Jackman delivers a grade-A performance as smooth-talking, charismatic superintendent Frank Tassone. While turning Roslyn High School into one of the nation’s best, Frank and district business manager Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney) have been perpetrating the largest public-school embezzlement in U.S. history. But when a tenacious young reporter from the school paper begins to investigate, both Frank and his audacious scheme begin to unravel.
Please Note: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (Warner Archive Collection) provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
Based on the true story of a massive scandal that rocked the Long Island School District, HBO Films’ ‘Bad Education’ follows the activities of various individuals working within the local school district who find themselves under fire after one of their own is discovered embezzling a notable amount of money. A careless mistake by a family member and the persistence of a young, high school reporter who finds hints of the conspiracy and subsequently makes it her mission to uncover and expose the corrupt actives occurring at the district quickly escalates things. Meanwhile, the well-respected superintendent finds himself forced to tackle this dangerous chain of activities while trying to balance the chaos of his own life in the process.
‘Bad Education’ is an engulfing and darkly comedic look at the shocking true scandal that rocked Long Island. It wisely approaches the material in a generally serious manner that allows for some moments of dark humor and characters that are quite relatable in many ways while never detracting from the terrible things some of them did or making the mistake of trying to have them appear in the right. It takes its time to explore both the personal and professional sides of these individuals, often showcasing the drastic differences between how they might act in the comfort of home as opposed to under the microscope (so to speak) while at work trying to save their careers as the magnitude of the scenario continues to expand. The true story is smoothly guided along by director Cory Finley (Thoroughbreds) marking his sophomore directorial outing, and his respectable work at the helm is greatly complimented by a magnificent cast of talented folks which includes Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, Geraldine Viswanathan, Ray Romano and many more, nearly all offering highly capable if not noteworthy performances in each of their respective roles, particularly Jackman who is nothing short of outstanding and truly shines in the lead. I would strongly encourage anyone even moderately interested in the film or the events that serve as its basis to try and find the time to give ‘Bad Education’ a watch. It’s a pretty fantastic biopic in most respects with a powerhouse cast to back it up and well worth giving a chance.
Overall, ‘Bad Education’ is a powerful and carefully constructed look at the true events which is handled with a perfect middle ground that keeps things entertaining and occasionally funny while still allowing much of what occurs to be as unpleasant and tense as it should be. Boosted by a phenomenal cast led by Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney, along with the guidance of director Cory Finley, ‘Bad Education’ quickly becomes something quite special and unique with a remarkable true story to tell. HBO’s ‘Bad Education’ is definitely recommended for fans of the key cast as well as anyone whose interest may be piqued. Fans of the film considering a purchase should be more than satisfied with Warner Archive’s Blu-ray release which serves up a gorgeous high definition video presentation paired with a nice DTS-HD multichannel soundtrack and a few brief extras to deliver a very solid Blu-ray release.
The Warner Archive Collection Blu-ray release of ‘Bad Education’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks great altogether and provides a smooth, clean and richly detailed presentation that also still retains its share of grain and other natural elements representative of shooting on film. It holds up smoothly even during the few darkly lit and heavily populated moments, never allowing anything occurring onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a wonderful high definition video presentation from Warner Archive that’s further complimented by a more than adequate bitrate and definitely shouldn’t disappoint.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack offers a clean, crisp and occasionally active audio presentation throughout. It somewhat frequently takes advantage of all five available channels whenever a fitting opportunity presents itself, sending some music, bits of crowd chatter and nature elements along with more throughout the various speakers on occasion and never causing any additional dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a solid 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers nicely in every way required of it and always sounds sharp and smooth.
Warner Archive’s Blu-ray release of HBO’s ‘Bad Education’ features a few brief extras that fans of the film may enjoy in the way of Behind the Scenes Featurettes and videos featuring interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are: ‘Based on a True Story’ (running approximately 4 minutes in length), ‘The Perception of Perfection’ (running approximately 3 minutes), and ‘Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney: Virtual Conversation’ (approximately 4 minutes).