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Cooties (2014)

Directed by Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion Written by Leigh Whannell & Ian Brennan  

The day begins with a health advisory from Happy Poultry Farms warranting a full recall of their tenders to the outskirts of Chicago; specifically Fort Chicken and Danville. Otherwise inopportune timing for Clint (Elijah Wood), who had just moved back home with his mother in order to focus on finishing his first novel. Though stuck with the summer task of substituting at his old Elementary school, he’s sure to bring a rough copy of which a lack of talent is implied from those unfortunate enough to gander. Running into a childhood friend also turned teacher, Lucy (Alison Pill); carrying on as though no time had passed and we’re introduced (sporadically) to the other faculty members.

An incident occurring later in class ultimately sets up the rest of the film. With a harsh reality settling in, the adults begin to notice the carnage going on within their own school grounds. Barricading themselves inside a classroom with an initial plan of waiting for 3 o’clock to roll around (to have the parents assist) fails almost instantly as they arm themselves with whatever weapons able to assemble to slowly make their way into Danville. Though the film doesn’t leave you with much resolution, it does leave the possibility for a sequel and instead end with a running joke that doesn’t leave you sour.

However with a full-fledged cast of comedians it does make it difficult to establish a central character. While technically from the perspective of Clint, his weariness towards his own career makes his humdrum demeanor easily overlooked. Once he checks into school his story immediately follows a potential love interest and any attempt to use his situation in regards to his novel. Learning later about Lucy dating the schools P.E. Coach Wade (Rainn Wilson). While some weird triangle is established between the characters, its more of a tactic used to further the established hatred between the two ‘alpha’ males vying for the meek yet charismatic woman. Though she was the least memorable, she does have a moment of outburst that was semi redeeming.

Howbeit the rest of the film is scattered with outlandish characters each bringing an idiosyncrasy that meshed well within the script. Tracy (Jack McBrayer), a closeted homosexual whose shrill voice echoed throughout the halls rarely spoke up, something the character of Rebekkah (Nasim Pedrad) certainly didn’t have trouble with. Firm on her worldly opinions, she frequently butted heads with Doug (Leigh Whannell) the Sex Ed teacher; who was easily a favorite. Leigh Whannell having a way to himself that’s so eccentric I’m not sure it could have been entrusted with anyone else. Discovering the virus could only affect those who had not gone through puberty, his array of knowledge is merely attributed to an incident having occurred in his youth. However the clear winner with the audience is Wilson, who was able to take an otherwise ok film and add some major badassery to it. Never did his character relish in the acts he was doing; merely survival of the fittest. Yet once he’s joined by Mr. Hatachi (Peter Kwong) their wonder twin powers activate and it becomes a race of who could look the coolest while getting the rest of the staff to safety.

Considering the content yes, this is for a viddy specific audience. Your dealing with violence and kids and who doesn’t like to get their panties in a bunch over such a topic? Is it better that they’re infected, zombie-like cootie kids? I think so, but if that alone perturbs you then the humor will undoubtedly loss you. Leigh Whannell and Ian Brennan (Vice Principal Simms) are incredibly intelligent and funny people aware of the nuances between generations and are able to write for an equally knowledgeable audience. Allowing the film to have an R rating gave them the freedom needed to play around with the content. Besides being good for a few laughs, it also holds an underlining message about teachers and the lack of respect they get from their community. We entrust them with our children yet criticize their choice of profession as though nothing better was attainable. Yet expect them to be okay with the conditions of which they in fact are settled with; little pay, long days and a bunch of prissy kids with parents too self obsessed to establish discipline to begin with. Why are we not more willing to give credit where due; “Nugget out of here.”