Review: ‘Middle School,’ Where the Principal Is Mean and the Pranks Messy


Andy Daly, left, and Griffin Gluck in “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.”

Frank Masi/Lionsgate

The latest entry in the revenge-on-the-educator genre — extending at least as far back as “Matilda” — is the slick, harmless “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life,” from the Lionsgate factory and adapted from the novel out of the James Patterson book factory. Directed by Steve Carr (“Paul Blart: Mall Cop”), the movie borrows a trick or two from the Disney XD series “Kirby Buckets,” with a dollop of “A Brilliant Mind” for dramatic heft.


Trailer: ‘Middle School’

A preview of the film.

By CBS FILMS and LIONSGATE on Publish Date October 6, 2016.

Photo by Lionsgate/CBS Films.

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Rafe Khatchadorian (an affable Griffin Gluck), booted out of two educational institutions, is now enrolled at Hills Village Middle School, dominated by the pompous, rules-obsessed Principal Dwight (Andy Daly). Rafe, who spends hours drawing cartoons (many brought to life in generic animated sequences), is outraged when Principal Dwight drops one of his notebooks in a bucket of acid. And so, with the aid of the younger Leo (Thomas Barbusca), he perpetrates a series of mild vandalistic acts, like putting paint in the principal’s hat and wallpapering hallways with Post-it notes. Eventually, his classmates join in when he again faces expulsion.

Lauren Graham is sufficient as Rafe’s mother, while Rob Riggle brings standard-issue smarminess to the role of her boyfriend. As Rafe’s co-conspirator Jeanne, Isabela Moner is merely adorable. The find here is Alexa Nisenson as Georgia, Rafe’s know-it-all little sister, who takes cars out for a spin. She is blessed with the best lines, comic and dramatic, and appears delightfully cognizant of the fact. If only the movie had more of her.


“Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested) for naughty words cut off in midutterance.

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