Assassination of a High School President

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Assassination of a High School President
DVD release cover
Directed by Brett Simon
Produced by Roy Lee
Doug Davison
Written by Tim Calpin
Kevin Jakubowski
Starring Reece Thompson
Bruce Willis
Mischa Barton
Michael Rapaport
Kathryn Morris
Josh Pais
Narrated by Reece Thompson
Music by Daniele Luppi
Cinematography M. David Mullen
Edited by William M. Anderson
Thomas J. Nordberg
Distributed by Yari Film Group
Release date
  • January 17, 2008 (2008-01-17) (Sundance Film Festival)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $11,500,000
Box office $6,000,000

Assassination of a High School President is a 2008 American neo noir comedy film, directed by Brett Simon, written by Tim Calpin and Kevin Jakubowski, and starring Reece Thompson, Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton and Michael Rapaport. It premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.[1]

The film had been scheduled for limited theatrical release on February 27, 2009, but that release was postponed indefinitely following the bankruptcy of its distributor, Yari Film Group's releasing division.[2] It was released on DVD in the United States on October 6, 2009.


Bobby Funke (Reece Thompson) is a less than popular high school sophomore with a dream to get into Northwestern University's summer journalism program. Although Bobby claims he's a great writer, he's never finished an article for St. Donovan's School Newspaper. The editor-in-chief Clara, (Melonie Diaz), assigns Bobby to do an article on Paul Moore, the student body president. Bobby attempts to get an interview, but is unable to get a story out of Paul and is bullied by Paul's friends. Paul is the star of the basketball team and on a game night, Paul takes a fall and injures his knee. The next morning Principal Kirkpatrick (Bruce Willis) discovers the SATs have been stolen from a safe in his office. Kirkpatrick rounds up his "usual suspects" of high school misfits along with Bobby to question them. The group is innocent but Kirkpatrick warns them all to watch their step.

When senior Francesca Facchini (Mischa Barton) solicits Bobby's help tracking down the set of stolen SATs,[3] Funke uncovers a story. He sets on a large scale investigation and links Paul Moore to the crime. He writes an article pointing the finger at Paul. Kirkpatrick forces Paul to open his locker and the SATs fall out. As a result of his sleuthing, Funke becomes one of the most popular kids at St. Donovan's. Clara decides to submit Funke's article to Northwestern which earns Bobby a scholarship to the summer program. Funke wins the respect of everyone from Principal Kirkpatrick to the kid that farts on him in Spanish class and Francesca takes Funke to homecoming. As Funke's popularity grows so do his suspicions. Paul confronts Bobby, proclaiming his innocence, stating that he got into Cornell but decided to take the test again to see if he could get a better score. Funke begins to wonder if the president really stole the SATs or if he's just a pawn in a conspiracy.

Funke investigates even deeper into the lives of Paul's shady friends, all members of the Student Council. He discovers their involvement with drug dealing. The Student Council had actually stolen the SATs along with other tests throughout the year, modifying the marks of the best students to make them doubt their test-taking abilities and turn to the Student Council for speed-like "study drugs". Funke says that while Paul wasn't a part of the scam, group ringleader Marlon Piazza (Luke Grimes) has Paul framed to avoid being caught. Funke also finds out that Francesca led him along the entire time to keep him from finding out the truth. Francesca and Marlon, step-siblings, are revealed as lovers.

Funke confronts the group in the principal's office. Marlon threatens to have Funke thrown out the window and frame it as a suicide, but his threat and confession are heard on the school's intercom system. When Funke entered the room, he secretly turned on the microphone; Funke's friends save him from being thrown out the window and Kirkpatrick rushes into the office, followed by the student body and Francesca. Francesca attempts to gain Funke's trust again, only to be shut down and left to deal with Kirkpatrick's punishment.



The fictional St. Donovan's High School was inspired by the Catholic high schools of writers Tim Calpin and Kevin Jakubowski. Calpin attended Scranton Preparatory School in Scranton, Pennsylvania, while Jakubowski attended Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois. The look of the school and style of dress were drawn from these high schools. The school mascot (Friar) and the school emblem (cross of the Dominican Order) was derived from Fenwick. The movie was shot on location at Bayonne High School in Bayonne, New Jersey.[4]


The film was scheduled for a February 17 limited theatrical release, followed by a wide release on March 27. The release date was not met as its distributor Yari Film Group's releasing division filed for bankruptcy. This attracted a response in the media urging a theatrical release, and to avoid a direct-to-DVD release by Sony, who own the home video distribution rights. Several journalists advised that the film should at least receive a limited theatrical release, and encouraged fans to support the film on social networking sites such as Facebook.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

In May 2009, Barton spoke to reporters about the future of the film: "They just can't get the funding to distribute it. The movie is complete and ready to go but there is no release date set and it is not looking likely there will be one."[15]

In Russia, the film was not released to theaters but premiered on May 14, 2009 on the Russian free-to-air channel TNT TV.[16][17]

In August 2009, despite fan protests, it was finally stated that due to YFG's bankruptcy the film would not receive a theatrical release, and would instead be released straight-to-DVD on October 6, 2009.[18][19]

In April 2010, the film was released in Portugal, distributed by Ecofilmes.[20] Over the following months, the film was released in various markets, including on June 11, 2010 in Australia.


Critical response[edit]

The film holds a 50% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on ten reviews, indicating a mixed critical reaction. The film was highly praised by MTV, favourably comparing it to Rushmore, The Usual Suspects, Chinatown, Sixteen Candles and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The network added that "The film's central mystery keeps you guessing intelligently, but brilliantly balances every reference to Nietzsche with a joke about a chocolate swirly." The casting choices were also praised, Willis is "hilariously intense" and Barton "brings the femme fatale back for a new generation."[21]

The Hollywood Reporter cited the film's lack of "novel insights" but praised the performance of two of its actors, Thompson is "completely convincing" and Barton is "captivating".[22]


  1. ^ "Sundance Review: Assassination of a High School President". Film School Rejects. 25 January 2008. 
  2. ^ Eller, Claudia (2008-12-12). "Court compels Yari Film Group's releasing unit into Chapter 11". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 1 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  3. ^ Mischa goes back to school The Sun. 4 March 2009
  4. ^ Sullivan, Al. "Movie stars seen around Hudson County" The Union City Reporter; September 23, 2007; Page 8
  5. ^ Help Save Assassination of a High School President From Going Direct To DVD Slash. 12 March 2009
  6. ^ Activism: Brilliant High School ‘Assassination’ Foiled by Studio Collapse, Needs Our Help Film School Rejects. 13 March 2009
  7. ^ Is ASSASSINATION OF A HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT getting shafted? Looks like! Aintitcool 13 March 2009
  8. ^ Buzzworthy "Assassination of a High School President" Destined For DVD Death The Business Insider. 14 March 2009
  9. ^ Help Save Assassination of a High School President from DVD Doom! First Showing. 13 March 2009
  10. ^ Mischa Barton’s ‘High School President’ May Graduate To DVD MTV. 13 March 2009
  11. ^ Yari's Woes Threaten 'Assassination of a High School President' Cinematical. 13 March 2009
  12. ^ Attention Movie Studios! Someone please pick up ASSASSINATION OF A HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT Collider. 13 March 2009
  13. ^ Saving a HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT Archived July 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Obsessed with film. 13 March 2009
  14. ^ Help Save ‘Assassination of a High School President’ Flick Cast. 30 June 2009
  15. ^ Barton's new movie missing money for launch Ireland Online. 18 May 2009
  16. ^ (Russian) "TNT-TV guide for May 14" (in Russian). 2009-05-13. 
  17. ^ (Russian) "Film's description in the TNT-TV guide" (in Russian). 2009-05-13. 
  18. ^ ‘Assassination of a High School President’ Snags a Release Date Retrieved August 8, 2009
  19. ^ Assassination of a High School President Arrives on DVD in October Archived August 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved August 8, 2009
  20. ^
  21. ^ 'Assassination Of A High School President': A Sundance Review MTV. 23 January 2008
  22. ^ Assassination of a High School President-Bottom Line: Good performances can't dispel the stale feel of this teen satire Hollywood Reporter. 25 January 2008

External links[edit]