After being homeschooled his whole life, wannabe physicist Liam (Daniel Doheny) "drops out" and enrolls in public school to chase the girl of his dreams, in this hilarious and heartwarming comedy from Kyle Rideout (Eadweard).
Contemporary World Cinema
Home schooling and overprotective parents are given a hilarious, yet generous, going over in Kyle Rideout's disarming high-school comedy Public Schooled. Educated in his garage by Claire (Judy Greer; Ant-Man, Archer), his fiercely enthusiastic mother, Liam (2017 TIFF Rising Star Daniel Doheny) is the quintessential über-nerd, a wannabe physicist who idolizes Stephen Hawking and is about to take his equivalency exam and head off to Cambridge. At the exam he spots Anastasia (Siobhan Williams), an enigmatic beauty who lost a leg to cancer. Instantly smitten, he changes his answers, hoping to flunk and have to redo his final semester in public school. In what follows, Liam is given a crash course in high-school dynamics, ranging from bullying to hallway flirting, as he timidly chases after Anastasia.
The cast is packed with usually benign but always hilarious eccentrics, including Andrew McNee as the befuddled and lonely principal, Grace Park as the frustrated mother of another home-schooled kid, and, in a charming cameo, Russell Peters as an exceedingly daft guidance counsellor. At the heart of the film are Doheny, Williams, and especially Greer, who delivers a tour de force turn. (It's a relief that she home schools Liam not for religious reasons but because she's convinced public school is a breeding ground for mediocrity.)
Public Schooled is one of the best Canadian romantic comedies in recent memory — and it reminds us that it's not how we get to where we need to go that matters, but that we get there.