Disturbing Behavior

This paranoia-fueled thriller, more intelligent and imaginative than you would have reason to believe, owes a huge debt to The Stepford Wives with its premise of a goody-good high school clique programmed by an evil doctor to be wholesome, academically driven, and shining examples of clean living. Unlike its predecessor, though, David Nutter's film opts to open up its premise for everyone to see, diluting the scares but amplifying the creepy atmosphere. There's never any question of what's happening to the students of Cradle Bay High, who go from being druggies and sex fiends to the academically excellent Blue Ribbons, but it's a lot of fun to see these programmed teens run amok--and start killing people--when their hormones kick in. And considering they're all horny teenagers, this happens, oh, at least a few times a day. Model-perfect James Marsden, with stunning cheekbones and piercing blue eyes, is the new kid in town who stumbles on the plot with a little help from metalhead Nick Stahl. Moody Marsden stirs up trouble when he refuses to join up with the Blue Ribbons, prompting his concerned parents to consider signing him up for the program, especially after it turns Stahl into a vest-wearing, pep-rallying brainiac. The satire isn't entirely fulfilled (the evil kids hang out at the yogurt shop and spout inspirational platitudes), but once the action kicks in it's quite an enjoyable ride, thanks primarily to Bruce Greenwood (of The Sweet Hereafter) as the mad scientist behind it all and Katie Holmes (Go) as Marsden's love interest. Refusing the advances of the star football player and fighting gamely alongside Marsden, Holmes manages to deck a few bad guys with a fervor that squarely puts her in Linda Hamilton and Jamie Lee Curtis territory. With Steve Railsback as the colluding chief of police and Dan Zudovic as a janitor with a penchant for getting rid of "rats," rodent and otherwise. --Mark Englehart

R (Restricted)
Year:
1998
84
1,205 Views

Gavin:
It's a class system here at CB High, Stevie Boy. Check it out. [points to the car enthusiast students] There, you've got your motor heads, car jocks, all the world's a gasket and a lube job and a pack of Lucky's. Music of choice: Posi-traction overdrive, classic rock, Skynyrd, The Allmans, Bruce. Drug of choice: Beer, Miller Genuine Draft. Keggers can't be choosers.

UV:
Freaks that fix leaks.

Gavin:
[points to the nerdy students] Over here you have your microgeeks... nerds, whiz kids and various other bottom feeders. Music of choice: The sound of an Apple PC booting up. Drug of choice: Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time"... and a cup of jasmine tea on a Saturday night.

UV:
Freaks that go squeak.

Gavin:
[points to the hippie students] Over there you have your skaters. Riffin', raging kids and their ramp tramps. Baggy pants, Dickie wools, doing 50-50 grinds... with a gnarly grab finish on a homemade half-pipe in the woods. Music of choice: The whack of a hackysack. Drug of choice: Ecstasy, E-tab, baby; longer lovin' through science.

UV:
Freaks in sneaks.

Gavin:
Here's where it gets really... nasty. [points to the Blue Ribbons] Lorna runs with that group over there, the Blue Ribbons.

Steve:
What's that?

Gavin:
Community group. Good kids. Have car washes and bake sales and kiss a lot of adult sphincter.

U.V.:
Blue Robots.

Gavin:
Hear, hear. Those three guys are Cradle Bay's answer to Manson, McVeigh and O.J.: Trent Whalen, Andy Effkin, Robby Stewart.

UV:
Hey, I bet you didn't know that toast came in three flavors.

Gavin:
Music of choice: the hum of perfection, the buzz of ambition. Drug of choice: life, the pursuit of clean living at the expense of all who sniffle at the hem of their gowns.

UV:
Freaks so chic.

Gavin:
The you've got kids like me and UV here, those who like their metal heavy, their Marlboro's light. Music of choice...

Gavin and UV:
"Harvester of sorrow, language of the mad."

Gavin:
Drug of choice: what have you got?

UV:
Freaks all week!

[Bell rings]

Gavin:
That's it. Lesson over. Class dismembered. Welcome to Cradle Bay High, Stevie Boy. Welcome to my nightmare.

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