Movie Review for Tween Academy: Class of 2012

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Tween Academy: Class of 2012

Comedy, Drama, Romance | G | 1 hr 55 min
GMA Films
Tween Academy: Class of 2012 is a pretty strange film. It portrays adolescence through a really strange filter, depicting a world of young people that no one would ever really recognize. And in this alien world, it tells a story that doesn’t really have any stakes, and has the characters idling around waiting for something to happen. It is the story of rich kids who don’t really act like rich kids, poor kids who aren’t really poor, and extended celebrity cameos and bits of product placement. It’s just a humongous mess.

High School juniors Enzo (Elmo Magalona), George (Bea Binene) and Kara (Barbie Forteza) are tired of being unpopular. They make a pact with each other to face their fears and climb out of their social status. Each of them face a problem on their way to acceptance. Enzo deals with a crush on his geometry teacher. George is struggling with her feelings for her best friend Jepoy (Jake Vargas). And Kara starts up a relationship online that she can't seem to translate into her real life. The three suffer heartbreak and humiliation all the way up to prom, where each of them is forced to live up to the pledge and face their fears.

The world portrayed in the film is very odd. It is one where rich kids who presumably have their own computers still go out to Internet cafes to do their work. Juniors and seniors attend the same dances, teachers aren't bound to dress codes, Internet addicts have virtual dates with motion controlled avatars, and kids seem to be influenced by a decade they never experienced. The film's grasp of youth culture is tenuous at best, making everything feel a little odd and alien. The story is equally bizarre. The characters set out to become popular, and end up doing nothing to achieve that goal. It’s a strange goal to begin, but the film sets it up and refuses to let the character pour any effort into it.

The film is pretty much just stalling for ninety minutes, having the characters trudge through a bunch of contrived plotlines. It plays out the same scenes over and over again, with little progress ever made. Enzo spends some time with his teacher, and goes goo-goo eyed. George spends some time with Jepoy, and goes catatonic. Kara’s story is too convoluted and contrived to parse, but she spends most of the film feeling despondent over a dumb issue that is completely her fault and ought to have been resolved almost immediately. There are also smaller side stories that also play out the same beats. All of this is suddenly resolved in the third act, where it turns out that the solutions to their problems are ridiculously simple. It turns out they’ve all just been blind and dumb the entire time.

It all feels weird and disjointed. The film jumps around constantly, between scenes and styles and fantasies and whatever. At one point, it goes into a dream sequence where the cast lip-syncs an A-Ha song. That’s about as random as things get. The actors are all made to do pretty unnatural things, and that hinders their performances. Barbie Forteza never quite looks comfortable delivering her Internet abbreviations, and to have the character constantly explaining the abbreviations makes for doubly awkward delivery. Joshua Dionisio pretty much suffers from the same thing, but makes it worse with some really wooden acting. Elmo Magalona tends to deliver all his lines in the same way, which makes the film’s tendency to have characters talk to themselves all the more annoying. Bea Binene acquits herself best with a sweet and enthusiastic performance, but she’s still unable to avoid some of the film’s pitfall.

Tween Academy: Class of 2012 is truly bizarre. Even the title is weird: none of the characters are tweens, and the three main characters aren’t even in the Class of 2012. And then there’s the rampant product placement. Then there’s the cyberdate, which will probably go down as one of the strangest and most awkward scenes ever committed to film. It feels like no one involved in the production has ever really been around young people, and has crafted this facsimile completely through rumor and conjecture. High school films tend to feel familiar. This one doesn’t even come close.

My Rating:

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