Balancing somewhat precariously between reverent homage and outright plagiarism, Robert Rodriguez's The Faculty is a derivative but frequently inspired cross between The Breakfast Club and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Wearing its shamelessness on its sleeve, the film begins with a series of shots that ape the opening sequences of Mean Streets to introduce characters taken directly from The Breakfast Club. But unlike that film's alienated suburban teens, who start out as high-school archetypes and end up as slightly more complicated high-school archetypes, the kids in The Faculty begin the film already in a state of peer-group transformation: The jock, for example, is well on his way to becoming a brain, while the charismatic cool kid is already secretly a brain. Like the kids in The Breakfast Club, the Tommy Hilfiger-clad youths of The Faculty need to learn some valuable lessons about non-conformity and the value of being yourself. Unlike the protagonists of The Breakfast Club, however, these kids need to learn important life lessons while battling the evil alien predators that have taken over all of their teachers, as well as most of their town. The Faculty is certainly flawed: Its plot doesn't make a whole lot of sense, its pop-culture scavenging sometimes reeks of artistic laziness, and screenwriter Kevin Williamson's trademark self-reflective gags have never seemed more stale or desperate. But overall, The Faculty is fine lowbrow entertainment, a fast, funny pastiche of science-fiction, horror, and teen-movie archetypes that is, aside from the original Scream, perhaps the most entertaining, fully realized film of the current postmodern horror/sci-fi cycle.
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