DVD Review - Straight A's

I'm not sure what the title means. There is a climatic moment that occurs at a school and it is perhaps so that the student involved can achieve straight A's on his report card, but that's not explicit. The movie is really about the student's uncle Scott Henderson, played by Ryan Phillippe. Scott is an addict of alcohol and possibly drugs. He claims to have come from a mental hospital. He arrives on horseback, literally. He lands at his brother's, Texas doorstep only to find his brother away in Louisiana and his nephew and niece performing a frog funeral, and their mother Kathy, played by Anna Paquin, Scott's former girlfriend still in resentment over being dumped at the altar.

The screenplay by David Cole documents Scott's near week-long stay at his brother's house. It's actually only four days. The problem is that the reason it's only four days is quite frankly the easy way out. Despite helping his nephew with public speaking, Scott doesn't resolve or even explain the issues he has with Kathy. Why Scott left is never really answered? Their history is given short shrift.

Luke Wilson co-stars as William, the older brother of Scott. He shows up on the fourth day, and we get no real sense of the history between William and Kathy either. This is probably purposeful to make us feel their disconnect, but I don't think it helps.

There are some interesting flourishes from director James Cox, but if this movie has any value, it's due to the acting of Phillippe. His performance is sexy, charming, confident and funny. He's a cool cowboy who's slightly damaged, a party boy, a wild boy but loveable. Phillippe is great to watch. I just wish his and the other characters were delved into and brought out a bit more.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated R for language and some drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 28 mins.


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