Director Brett Simon’s feature debut is an intricately crafted high school drama that strays from the typical teenage fare and manages to keep what at first seems like a familiar plot twisting and turning until the very last frame. Combining a keen sense of relief that no one can make you go back to high school with an equally strong desire to return and make all of the cool kids realize that there’s life past graduation, <i>Assassination of a High School President</i> deftly captures a new kind of grown-up teenage angst.
Sophomore Bobby Funke, played with witty nuance by Reece Thompson, is a self-described newspaper dork whose social skills are severely lacking in this high school hierarchy, yet he is instantly recognizable as the person with the most promising future in his class. Determined to win a spot in a coveted summer journalism program, he finds himself at the epicenter of a story that threatens the entire social structure of St. Donovan’s High School—everyone from jocks to misfits to Bruce Willis’s campy and over-the-top principal. The rest of the perfectly cast ensemble creates a high school from hell, where anything seems possible, especially since every character seems to be 16 going on 30. Giving any hints about the way this film turns out would only destroy the fun.