The lovely Jill Schoelen, starlet of such films as Phantom of the Opera, The Stepfather, When a Stranger Calls Back, etc., is a sweeter, less “I’m gonna kick your ass for no reason” version of Demi Moore. She also stars in Cutting Class, thankfully opening the movie in her underwear, walking to the front porch to snag a newspaper with the no-bullshit headline “A CONVICTED KILLER HAS BEEN RELEASED FROM THE MENTAL ASYLUM!” Jill’s father, District Attorney and funnyman duck hunter Martin Mull, shows up, says three lines, and is promptly executed via bow and arrow, a rather inauspicious debut for an actor of his caliber.
Jill’s other half, Brad Pitt, enjoys roaring through the suburbs in his Mustang convertible, listening to that fucking stellar Cutting Class soundtrack featuring Wall of Voodoo. He gets so into it that he narrowly misses some asshole kids on their toy bikes, which is what I’ll be driving when gas hits $17 a gallon. Rounding out the cast is the creepy freak Brian and the token slut redhead (steering well clear of any blonde bimbo stereotypes). I think Brian is the kid that was released from the asylum and, to make matters worse, he has the hots for Jill. His attempts at Jill’s hand are no doubt misguided and useless, as I doubt she would leave Brad “I’m all washboard and shit” Pitt for a psychotic murderer with non-existent abs and shitty hair.
Not that Jill is a vapid slut, mind you (that would be the redhead). Rather, she’s a true paragon of morality, and won't even sleep with Brad until he is passing all of his courses (that would be “Sit-ups 201” and “Alternative Ceramics 102”). Other than that, you would never figure Jill for a prude, what with her bending over in her underwear in the intro…and bending over in a black leotard…and bending over in a miniscule skirt, etc. No one enjoys these erotic interludes more than the principal, Mr. Dante, played by Roddy MacDowell; a rather inauspicious part for an actor of his caliber (that of the high school principal whose sole character trait is his obsessive ogling of teenage ass).
Evidence starts accruing that Brian is/was/will be a psycho slasher, such as the fact that he received electroshock therapy every single day while he was in the nuthouse. This information spreads throughout school, and a bunch of high school extras tease him by pretending they are being "zapped". I mean, literally zapped; electrocuted, not “Scott Baio zapped” (i.e. moving shit with your mind). Martin Mull also pops up again, looking a might peaked, considering he’s been dying for 36 hours straight. Oh wait, this is undoubtedly meant to be "comic relief" and "a chance for Martin to showcase his comic chops", and not to mention “fucking hilarious I’m sure”.
This shit is all well and good, but the movie finally gets going with a cozy trip to a locker room full of cheerleaders before the big basketball game. If we were paying attention to the game itself (we ain’t), we might learn of important plot points, like Brad Pitt being an ab-a-liscious post-up machine for the Comets. This game has special meaning for Brad, being that there is a big time college scout at the game, along with the token pressuring asshole father. You see, Brad thought he wanted to become a college basketball star, eventually paving the way for him to become the NBA’s next great white hope, draining three pointers and passing the ball with Caucasian aplomb. However, he doesn’t respond well to all of this pressure and hassle, and pulls that "I want to play for the love of the game" bullshit. This spills over into frustration and he gets himself ejected, and this rebel without a scholarship kisses his entire basketball career away in the process.
Brad is our pillar of teen angst, despising the values forced on him by an earlier generation. Later, he even gives his phys-ed teacher the middle finger. The teacher responds with a surprisingly sensible "no, fuck you!", right before being impaled by the American flag. Subversively, this paints Mr. Pitt’s individualism as the real guiding principle for the American way of life, which obviously includes the freedom to tell people to go fuck themselves. This angsty hokum with Brad is pretty heavy, so thankfully our promiscuous redhead decides to raise school spirit by pulling off her panties and cheering with her vagina. She even gets it on with some guy under the bleachers, but of course, he gets his throat slit by the killer. Small price to pay for being able to make out with a 27-year-old high school cheerleader with a fiery disposition and no underwear.
Brian, a former friend with Brad in years gone by (before Brian turned into a nutbag) is trying to “rekindle” their friendship. In some grease monkey class, they whip out their shiny tools and go to work (yes, apropos), and this newfound closeness helps Brian to co-op Brad’s angsty pain. He tells his guidance counselor he would rather "suck donkey dick" than pursue the plan she envisions for his life. There is another semi-erotic encounter between Brad and Brian in the men's bathroom, showing once again that all it takes is a great six pack to turn a manly man into one of the Village People. In case the audience has narrowed in on Brian as the killer, the janitor shows up, backed by some ominous synth. However, it isn’t until the counselor gets her face smashed in a Xerox machine (a rather non-brutal parlor trick that, frankly, is used far too often and needs to be retired) that Brad starts to finally suspect Brian as the guilty repressed flamer he most certainly appears to be.
Martin Mull shows up yet again (looking remarkably good for a guy that has been bleeding to death for 72 hours) and performs the old “hey Lassie, go find help before I fucking die” bit with some poor mutt. This comic relief is unnecessary at this point, as the audience has been giggling like school girls at the overt homoerotic subtext of our two heroes. As if we haven’t had our fill of chuckles at this point, Brad starts rehearsing for Hamlet. He doesn’t seem to be taking it all that seriously, popping his gum, no doubt feeling that talking to a skull is "so not tubular". “To be or not to be”, the man bellows unconvincingly. Before we get too existential, or delve into any more fey material, we are whisked away to the sound and fury of the girl’s locker room, signifying something that looks suspiciously like gratuitous teenage nudity.
Jill shows us her underwear yet again, and Brian sneaks up on her and tells her he needs help finding the “real” killer. Yeah, I’ve heard that one before, douche. Well, Jill ends up embroiled in this lover’s triangle, and this combines with your typical “final girl running around an abandoned high school revelation” ending. She conveniently bumps into all of the corpses while the killer blares the Cutting Class soundtrack over the loud speaker, as apparently Brad Pitt is not the only one that thinks Wall of Voodoo kicks fucking ass.
(BIG ASS SPOILERS AHEAD)
In a sea of roteness, an occasional buoy stays afloat, and that would be the totally clever showdown, which I will promptly explain in naked detail. Jill and her math teacher (who conveniently lives in the classroom during off days) are presented with a word problem, one of those “the train is leaving at such and such time, at such and such speed, and Joe doesn’t want to be late for his vasectomy at 1:17 P.M., blah blah etc.” deals. It’s a multiple choice question with two possible answers, and two corresponding numbered doors. A simple word problem, narrowed down to two possible answers, with the assistance of a professor of mathematics? Piece of cake, right? Fucking wrong!
The dumbass math teacher gets it wrong (he forgot to take time zones into account), so he gets axed by...Brian! Shockingly, the crazy killer guy that everyone thought was the killer (including the audience and every fucking character in the film, even the extras) actually was the killer! This qualifies as cinematic innovation within the realm of the slasher movie, sort of a cousin to the whole “inaction as action” principle. Innovative or not, this nutface loses brownie points by rattling off one of those long psycho killer speeches.
Luckily, Brad comes to the rescue, but Brian is a still a big ‘ol dandy fop when it comes to the Pittster, sticking his head in a vice and saying he wants a "tighter relationship" with him. Jill wants Brad’s pecs all to herself, so she sticks a hammer in Brian's skull. This unmercifully segues into one last thespian showcase for Martin Mull. In a nearly clever wraparound, Brad narrowly misses Mull with his Mustang as he finally stumbles home, 96 hours after being killed with an arrow. Despite a rough week, his only concern was getting back home to utter a tie-in catch phrase to his lovely daughter: “you're not Cutting Class, are you?”
In summary, Cutting Class takes the blandest script imaginable, brings it to life with a point and shoot, who-gives-a-shit approach, but soars above it all with a surprisingly stellar cast married to a Wall of Voodoo soundtrack. Alas, a combination we are unlikely to see repeated anytime soon.