Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (film)
|Middle School: |
The Worst Years of My Life
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steve Carr|
|Based on||Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life|
by James Patterson
|Music by||Jeff Cardoni|
|Box office||$23.3453 million |
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life is a 2016 American live-action/animated family comedy film directed by Steve Carr and written by Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer and Kara Holden, based on the 2011 novel of the same name by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts.
The film stars Griffin Gluck, Lauren Graham, Rob Riggle, Isabela Moner, Retta, Thomas Barbusca, Andy Daly, and Adam Pally. It follows a middle school student who sets out to break every one of the many rules made by his domineering principal.
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Rafe Khatchadorian, who enjoys a passion for art and has an incredible imagination, transfers mid-year to Hills Village Middle School after being kicked out of his previous one. On his first day, he meets the strict and exceedingly vain Principal Ken Dwight and his obsequious Vice-principal Ida Stricker. Dwight forces students to comply with an extensive list of rules that are mostly senseless while Stricker follows along with his antics. Later that day, an assembly focused on the BaseLine Assessment of Academic Readiness standardized test, led by Dwight, is interrupted when another student grabs Rafe's sketchbook in which he had drawn the principal as a zombie repeating "B.L.A.A.R." over and over. Dwight responds by destroying the sketchbook in a bucket of acid, much to the dismay of Rafe.
Later that day, Rafe is back in his room with his best friend and his younger brother, Leo, who suggests that to get even, Rafe should destroy Dwight's rule book. To show the ridiculousness of Dwight's rules, Rafe and Leo pull several pranks such as papering the walls of the hallways as well as Dwight's office with colored sticky notes, tampering with the period bell to make it end with a fart, filling the teachers' lounge with plastic balls, putting hair dye in Dwight's hat, and turning the trophy case into a fish tank. These pranks gain the attention and admiration of Rafe's fellow students, including Jeanne Galletta, whom Rafe develops an immediate crush.
In the chaos, Dwight, obsessed with his school's performance on the BLAAR, realizes that if he can exclude the remedial class, which includes Rafe, from the test, then the average scores will improve. Dwight frames several students from the class by secretly putting items in their lockers that make it appear like they were responsible for the pranks and suspends the whole class for a week, even unlawfully firing Mr. Teller, the compassionate remedial class teacher who, along with the other teachers, disagrees with Dwight and Stricker's antics and sees through Dwight's plan. Rafe immediately goes to Dwight's office and begs him to not suspend the other students since he was the one responsible for the pranks; when Dwight refuses, Rafe creates a wild dance party via the sprinkler system and fire alarm, soaking the school and the students in colored dye that was intended to be yet another one of his pranks, which prompts an enraged Dwight to expel Rafe permanently.
Now expelled from Hills Village Middle School, Rafe is confronted by his mother Jules who tells him that her fiancé Carl "Bear", who seriously loathes Rafe and his sister Georgia, has found a military school where Jules should consider sending him. While acknowledging that it is not ideal, it represents what may be the only option left. She also pauses to reflect the passing of Rafe's younger brother Leo, revealing that Leo had been imagined the whole time by Rafe. Later that evening, Jeanne shows up at Rafe's house with evidence: a VHS tape containing a documentary of the school she had recorded with surveillance footage of Dwight putting the items "found" in the student lockers himself to frame the students so that they would get suspended and the test would be rigged. With this evidence, Rafe, Jeanne, and Georgia gather the suspended students from the remedial class outside the middle school, along with the janitor Gus, who also dislikes Dwight's rules, and pull together a plan to get revenge on Dwight and Stricker.
The next morning, Jules discovers that neither Rafe nor Georgia are home and becomes concerned about their disappearance, but when Bear shows more concern in the fact that his car is missing as it was stolen by the kids, she finally realizes that he is nothing more than a "selfish jerk".
Meanwhile, with B.L.A.A.R. testing ready to begin, Rafe and his classmates interrupt procedures and expose Dwight's deceitfulness. Gus shows up in a cart to pick up Rafe while Dwight gives chase, only to have a pile of manure dumped all over him. Just as Dwight catches up with Rafe and Gus, Mr. Teller arrives with Superintendent Hwang whom Rafe hands over the video proving Dwight's guilt. He and Stricker are subsequently fired by Hwang for creating unlawful rules, illegally rigging the B.L.A.A.R., framing the students of Mr. Teller’s class and unlawfully suspending them and for unlawfully firing Mr. Teller. When Jules arrives to pick up Rafe and Georgia, Rafe is re-enrolled and she breaks up with Bear.
Rafe is later seen that night outside the school conversing with Leo, who tells him that since Rafe has now made friends with some of his classmates, he is no longer needed to fill that void. As Leo departs on a spaceship with aliens that Rafe has created in his earlier sketchbook. Rafe and Jeanne share a kiss, breaking rule #86 which is the final rule Rafe needed to break for an ends justify the means deed.
- Griffin Gluck as Rafael "Rafe" Khatchadorian, an eleven year old rule-breaking but well-meaning middle schooler who attends the sixth grade at Hills Village Middle School and is Jeanne Galletta's love interest.
- Lauren Graham as Julie "Jules" Khatchadorian, Rafe's mother
- Rob Riggle as Carl "Bear", Jules' child-hating boyfriend
- Thomas Barbusca as Leonardo "Leo" Khatchadorian, Rafe's imaginary ten-year-old best friend and late real younger brother who passed away from cancer. 
- Andy Daly as Principal Kenneth "Ken" Dwight, the strict and exceedingly vain principal of Hills Village Middle School
- Adam Pally as Mr. Teller, Rafe's friendly and fun-loving English teacher who dislikes Dwight and Stricker's antics
- Retta as Ida Stricker, the stern vice-principal of Hills Village Middle School and Principal Dwight's accomplice.
- Jacob Hopkins as Miller "the Killer", a large school bully who targets Rafe, but later joins his plan to battle Dwight
- Alexa Nisenson as Georgia Khatchadorian, Rafe's nine-year-old smart younger sister
- Isabela Moner as Jeanne Galletta, Rafe's love interest who helps him in his plan
- Efren Ramirez as Gus, the disgruntled janitor who later joins Rafe's plan to get revenge on Dwight
- Isabella Amara as Heidi
- James A. Patterson as James, a restaurant manager at Dave & Buster's.
- Jessi Goei as Bella
- Luke Hardeman as Shon
- Angela Oh as Superintendent Hwang, the superintendent of the school district that Hills Village Middle School is in.
On August 4, 2015, it was announced that Steve Carr would direct the film adaptation of James Patterson's 2011 novel Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, with a script written by Chris Bowman and Hubbel Palmer. Griffin Gluck would play the lead role, Rafe Khatchadorian, a student at Hills Village Middle School. Leopoldo Gout and Bill Robinson were set to produce the film, along with CBS Films, which handles international sales, with Lionsgate handling distribution. On November 12, 2015, more cast were announced for the film, whose script was also written by Kara Holden; it was also announced that Patterson would co-finance the film through his James Patterson Entertainment, along with Participant Media and CBS Films.
In the United States and Canada, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life was projected to gross $8–19 million from 7,822 theaters during its opening weekend. It went on to open to $6.9 million, finishing 7th at the box office for its first weekend. It finished its theatrical run with a total gross of $23.3 million, making it a moderate success against its $8.5 million production budget.
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life received mixed reviews from critics. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 59%, based on 38 reviews, with an average rating of 5.5/10. Metacritic reported an average rating of 51 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.
Variety's Joe Leydon commended director Steve Carr for grounding the comedic aspects of the film in a "candy-colored facsimile" of reality and the cast for admirably performing their roles, highlighting both Gluck and Daly as "well-matched opponents", calling it "A youth-skewing comedy-fantasy with possible cross-generational appeal." Deborah Dundas of the Toronto Star praised the performances from the cast and the overall humor and aesthetics that appear throughout the film, concluding that, "As they manage the world between childhood and being a teenager, this film gives middle school kids a way to deal with their shared experience — overbearing adults, school bullies, first crushes, impossible rules — and giggle at the things that grind ’em down." Marjorie Baumgarten of The Austin Chronicle found the film to be reminiscent of the teen movies of John Hughes, saying that "Deft filmmaking moves quickly past the film’s implausibilities (like how Rafe pulls off some of his more elaborate stunts in the limited overnight hours, or how he even physically gets back to school), and particularly good performances by the cast’s younger members help make the story credible." The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck also felt the movie channelled its inner Hughes, calling it Ferris Bueller's Day Off for the tween demographic. He added that the film "delivers an easily digestible and amusing portrait of youthful hijinks that should well please its target audience […] prove modestly successful in its theatrical release before enjoying a long life in home video formats."
Jesse Hassenger of The A.V. Club gave the film a 'C-' grade. He said "[T]hough its title and general tone lament the stifling atmosphere of the years between childhood and full-fledged teenhood, the movie misses the animal hostility and physical awkwardness of genuine tweens." Keith Watson of Slant Magazine wrote that despite the "good-natured irreverence" throughout the plot and the capability of its adult-aged comedic actors making moments "winsomely breezy," he felt it was by-the-numbers overall saying, "Unimaginatively directed and indifferently shot, the film never establishes a distinctive voice for itself." Alonso Duralde from TheWrap felt the writing throughout the movie, despite displaying its younger actors as being "consistently endearing", hampered any moments of comedy and drama to feel "strained and mawkish," making the plot come across more as "a third-rate Saved by the Bell knock-off than a legitimate teen flick." Tom Russo from The Boston Globe found the adaptation "comedically flat" with its squandered visual gags and contributions from its adult cast, putting it alongside similar films like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref(s)|
|Annie Awards||February 4, 2017||Best Animated Special Production||Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life||Nominated|||
On October 3, 2016, Patterson announced that he is developing a sequel to the film.
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- "CBS Films, Participant Media and James Patterson Assemble Cast for "Middle School: the Worst Years of My Life"". prnewswire.com. November 12, 2015. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
- Kroll, Justin (November 17, 2015). "'The Goldbergs' Actor Jacob Hopkins Joins 'Middle School' Cast". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
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- Dundas, Deborah (October 6, 2016). "Middle School is relatable for the tweens in your life: review". Toronto Star. Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
- Baumgarten, Marjorie (October 7, 2016). "Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
- Scheck, Frank (October 6, 2016). "'Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Eldridge Industries. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
- "Tweens can do better than the cartoon garishness of Middle School". The A.V. Club. The Onion. October 7, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
- Watson, Keith (October 7, 2016). "Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life". Slant Magazine. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
- Duralde, Alonso (October 6, 2016). "'Middle School' Review: Pre-Teen Comedy-Drama Succeeds at Neither". TheWrap. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
- Russo, Tom (October 6, 2016). "Just can't wait to get out of 'Middle School'". The Boston Globe. Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
- "Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life DVD Release Date January 3, 2017".
- "44th Annie Award Nominees". International Animated Film Society. November 28, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
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