Light It Up

Netflix calls Light It Up [1999] "Taps meets The Breakfast Club in the inner city in this late 1990s answer to the Brat Pack flicks of the 1980s". I didn't find it to be that, exactly. It was (again) melodramatic, and highly implausible - when the students get their demands out to every newsmedia outlet in the free world via internet access in the curiously operational computer lab, in a school that has neither text books nor heat mind you, I had to raise my objections - but I have to admit that it did tip its hat to The Breakfast Club once or twice.

There was a chubby and bespectacled Judd Nelson - Young man, have you finished your paper? - as the selfless martyr to education, Ken Knowles. Then there was the five, plus one, social caricatures brought together against their will in the school library. I thought that Sarah Gilbert may have been a half-decent proxy for Ally Sheedy's character in TBC, and Rosario Dawson could have passed for a less clueless Molly Ringwald, but after that the comparison sort of breaks down. And the movie ends with a freeze frame that was strikingly similar to Judd Nelson's upraised fist at the end of TBC, but that one may be a stretch. Oh yeah, and then there's the semi-omniscient narrator that bookends the action in both films.

By and large I thought Light It Up was pretty lousy in comparison to the teen films of yore. There is really much more sensationalism than substance. But hey, that Usher Raymond kid is pretty dreamy, isn't he?

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