Film Review: WussDespite the familiar turf, this high-school comedy takes some sharply observed turns.
A dark-around-the-edges, revenge-of-the-nerd satire, Clay Liford’s Wuss refers to a put-upon substitute teacher at a tough school who has finally been pushed to the limit. With the exception of a tonally jarring third act, the effectively cast indie production is an otherwise fresh, energetic and smartly funny film.
Central character Mitch Parker (Nate Rubin) is no stranger to arrested development. In his mid-20s but still living at home with his mother (Sylvia Luedtke) and bullying sister (Jennifer Sipes), the geeky Parker teaches English as a sub at the very same high school he attended a decade earlier, while in his off-hours he’s a fierce Dungeons & Dragons player.
When he’s badly beaten after taking on one of the more delinquent members of his class (Ryan Anderson), Mitch is determined to take a stand. Although his fellow faculty members prove to be of little assistance, he finds an unexpected ally in one of his female students (Alicia Anthony), who acts as a mule for her gun-running big brother (Jonny Mars).
Suggesting a younger, more wet-behind-the-ears Seth Green, Rubin plays the title role to an effectual T, while newcomer Anthony is equally well-cast as his wiser-than-her-years supporter.
While director-writer Liford (who previously directed the popular festival film Earthling) runs into a bit of a snag with an abrupt mood shift in the last 15 minutes that doesn’t feel true to the prevailing vibe, he usually hits the perceptive mark, especially in the staff room where Mitch’s taunting co-workers appear to have never moved beyond the old schoolyard.
—The Hollywood Reporter