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The Substitute (1993)

  Directed by: Martin Donovan
Written by: Cynthia Verlaine
Starring: Amanda Donohoe, Dalton James, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Mark Wahlberg
Links: The Substitute on the IMDb, Buy on Video
Genre: Suspense/Horror/Thriller

This movie gets: 3.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Late night jokes don't get much better, or worse" - a review by em_fiction

When you guzzle large enough quantities of a caffeine-filled beverage, you're bound to stay up late enough to catch the late night movie. Sometimes it might be one of those bad-but-nevertheless-a-guilty-pleasure action films starring Dolph Lundgren about sword-wielding four-fingered yakuzas who enjoy executing dummies in car crushers (while it was meant to be a person, I clearly saw a synthetic polymer dummy which I'm pretty sure wasn't meant to be left in the frame) and as a bonus, contains pervasive, gratuitous female nudity for no other reason but to stop the male viewer from changing the channel (okay, you got me, I was in fact targeting a specific film. It's entitled Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) and I shall review it the next time I feel inspired to discourse the art of bad films).

Anyway, I've dedicated the whole first paragraph to a completely different film, so I think it'd be wise to spend the rest of the review actually talking about the flim at hand (Uh, I noticed that typo, but it reminded me of a funny gag on The Simpsons, so I'll leave it there as homage). But my intro paragraph isn't completely irrelevant to this film. Why? Because it's also bad late night film.

So anyway, The Substitute (not a very original title by the way) is about a woman named Gayle (Amanda Donohoe, the slutty boss from Liar Liar (1997)) who has the standard catches-husband-in-bed-with-another-woman-and-in-a-moment-of-uncontrollable-rage-kills-them-both thing. As a result, she's forced to move away, changing her look, her name and most importantly, her occupation. She becomes, as the title suggests, a substitute teacher. At the school in a completely different town, her students include Ryan (a young Mark Wahlberg, credited as Marky Mark, don't ask me why) a rebellious bad boy; Josh (Dalton James), a camcorder-obsessed, earlier-version-of-Ricky-from-American Beauty (1999) geek and Jenny (Robert Wagner's step-daugter, Natasha Gregson Wagner), the token girlfriend (though I forget whose girlfriend). Anyway, these little rascals start messing with Gayle, now known as Laura, and begin to uncover things from her past, hence (quoting a plot summary) "she is forced to stop them from revealing too much... at all costs" (God, can you think of a bigger cliché than that? It might as well say "she kills them off one by one").

Okay, so if you've read up to here, you can see that I wasn't incredibly fond of this film. You're probably thinking "if it was so bad, why did you keep watching?". Well, other than the fantasy sequence where Josh dreams of having a threesome with Natasha Gregson Wagner and Amanda Donohoe (definitely the highlight of the film and two thirds of the reason I'm giving it 3), I found that although the caffeine was keeping me wide awake, I was somewhat physically unable to switch the television either off or onto another channel. I was meaning to do it but pretty soon, it was the end of the film, and I thought to myself "Holy shit, I just sat through an entire bad film that wasn't in a cinema" (I always feel obliged to stay in the cinema regardless of how bad the film is).

The film was completely shallow, lacking everything that makes a good storyline good. It was lame and so predictable that the ending could've been forseen at around the second commercial break. The actors were okay I suppose, but again, like Not Another Teen Movie (2001), good performances are pointless if the film demonstrates a standard of crapiness like this. Marky Mark ought to thank his lucky stars not many people know he started off in these sort of films. I've learnt one important lesson from watching this: there's a very good reason why these films are limited to these timeslots.

em_fiction gives this movie 3 out of 10.
Review created on Sun 25 Jan 2004

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Number of reviews: 1
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Reader comments

  1. i thought the movie was awsome. it is better than some movies that are mystery/crime

    Rating given: 7

    A comment from ... on Wed 24 May 2006 14:56 #

  2. you have no idea what u r talking about alright if u don't even know mark wahlberg 2 b talking about him like this.This website u put up is all bullshit do something else with your spare time alright do yourself a favor please....................... and stop talking about this film like this, it deserves more credit than what it is an awesome film.....
    and by the way its a hard film 2 find

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Gina on Tue 26 Dec 2006 19:47 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 8.50 (2 ratings)

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