Bad Education

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

According to IMDB, this movie played a few film festivals in 2019, then was dumped right onto HBO in April of this year. Despite having a big star in the lead, Hugh Jackman. But they eventually made a DVD version, and it showed up at Netflix, so:

Hugh plays Frank Tassone, superintendent of the Roslyn public school system out on Long Island. As the movie opens, he's being feted for leading the high school to the #4 position on the Wall Street Journal's list of the best in the entire country! Woot! Especially happy about that are the local real estate folks, who note the effect on property values. (Ray Romano plays a real estate guy who's also on the school board.)

And as the movie opens, you kind of get it: Frank seems to know every single one of the students under his wing, and cares deeply about their plans and goals. And he even recognizes a student from long past when he's in a Las Vegas bar—that turns out to have an unexpected plot development, but never mind that now.

But little cracks start to appear in the perfect edifice. The district's business manager, played by Allison Janney, encourages a relative, another district employee, to put a Christmas-present Xbox on the district credit card. She also spends a few thou at Macy's. And a different relative hops from hardware store to hardware store, stocking up on home improvement items on the school district dime.

And eventually it all falls apart, despite the efforts of Tassone and the school board to keep a lid on the blossoming scandal. Thanks to a plucky student journalist!

Kudos to the filmmakers for tackling a sacred cow, the government school system. The miscreants are caught because they're greedy and sloppy. Any sentient being has to ask: what about the folks who aren't caught?

The end of the movie reveals a further outrage, by the way: even after the embezzlement revelation, Tassone received a $173,495.04/year pension. Even while he was in prison. This is New York, baby. And the biggest scandals are what's legal.

Last Modified 2022-10-16 9:42 AM EST