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UNDERCLASSMAN

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Like most films aiming to please both action aficionados and comedy buffs, Underclassman begins with a wholly insipid premise: A Los Angeles bike cop (Nick Cannon) is assigned to go undercover at a prep school, where trust-funders are stealing Hummers and sports cars during weekend pool parties. Ultimately, of course, justice prevails, and along the way we enjoy plenty of Jerry Bruckheimer-inspired explosions, as well as a mildly titillating sexual sub-plot. Former cannabis advocate Cheech Marin even appears as the L.A.P.D. Chief of Police. But director Marcos Siega manages to squeeze in a worthwhile moral or two about loyalty and hard work. The ever-bumbling Cannon, for instance, spends the film attempting to live up to the reputation of his late father, a former star of the police force. And viewed purely as an ethnography, Underclassman gives a fairly accurate portrayal of modern high school hazing rituals and class-consciousness. In other words, not bad -- for a popcorn movie. (DE)

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