I’ve been enjoying watching Cole Sprouse as Jughead on Riverdale. I was only vaguely aware that he was previously a Disney kid actor with his twin brother, so when offered the chance to check out Dylan Sprouse’s role in Dismissed, I thought I’d enjoy it. Particularly since it seemed like a modern take on The Bad Seed.
Here’s the trailer for the thriller, which is about how a perfect student (Sprouse) reveals his dark side when disappointed.
Unfortunately, the movie was disappointing. Most viewers will already know the twist is coming, so they’ll spend a lot of slow-paced time waiting for Lucas the psychopath to reveal himself. Nothing we see is fresh or interesting, either character-wise or visually.
Particularly unsatisfactory is the lead role of the teacher, played by Kent Osborne. He’s well-cast as a schlub stuck in a thankless job somewhere in the midwest who dreams of more but can’t achieve it, but in my opinion, he doesn’t have the presence to keep the viewer’s attention. He should be part of a supporting ensemble at best. (Normally, he works in animation as a writer and voice actor.)
Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) has a couple of scenes as a fellow teacher, but he disappears early and the movie is worse off for it.
Dylan Sprouse apparently returned to acting with this after a six-year hiatus. While the film gives him plenty to do, he should have chosen more wisely. Fans will enjoy watching his performance, since it can be chillingly believable, but they’ll have to sit through a bunch of other stuff where attention wanders.
The movie also fails the Bechdel Test, with only three female roles, none of whom interact: The wife and mother of the teacher, there to be threatened by the student and console the teacher. The student friend, who has little of her own initiative, instead being manipulated by Lucas. And the principal, a functionary.
I had hopes for the friend (Rae Gray, Fear the Walking Dead), as shown in this clip, but this is her best scene in the movie. There should have been more like this instead of reducing her to a pawn and a sacrifice.
Dismissed is available now through your favorite video-on-demand service. (The studio provided a digital review copy.)