Dirty Books

To save his high school newspaper from being transformed into an online blog, David seeks out the best story in the school... even if it’s one he made himself.

Genre: Comedy

Length: 15:48

Free To View

3.5 out of 5 stars

Producer/s : Christina Dunlop, Matt Rindini

Director/s : Zachary Lapierre, 

Writer/s : Ian Everhart, Zachary Lapierre

Actor/s : Noah Bailey, 

 

Fake news

Technology and fashion have caught up with the high school newspaper. Kids won’t open it these days, except for the sport, and the principal can’t justify printing 600 copies a week. Editor-in-chief David loves newsprint – you can tell from seeing him throwing newspapers from his bike onto suburban lawns in the morning sun. It’s a cliché scene, but telling. David seems stuck in the 50s.

His mission is to save the printed word. To raise circulation, he sets up a series of pranks, then reports them. Of course it all goes wrong, and he only has himself to blame.

There’s a lot to like, for sure. The story unfolds well. The secondary characters, his best friend, the principal, and the “Judas” sports reporter (female, and rightly so) all ably support the plot. Noah Bailey keeps nerdy David likeable even when we begin to suspect that he actually has a monstrous ego. Fake news, big ego? Do I sense an allegory? The writing may just have predated Trump, but not Murdoch.

It’s dialogue-led comedy in the American sitcom tradition, and it shows how tough a discipline this is. Script and direction have to be tight, snappy and sharp, or the result is pedestrian. There are hints of what could have been, with energy injected as David executes his pranks to a voiceover of his newspaper articles. But all too soon we’re back to another static conversation.

And sadly, the young production team pull their punches. The pranks are pretty soft. Placing photos of magazine bikini models inside school library books won’t outrage anyone. That would be okay if David escalated to keep his readership’s interest, and got darker to keep the audience’s, but the pranks just get wetter. If David was making a film, this is the film he’d make.