The early 90s hip hop duo Kid ‘N Play are perhaps more known for their style than their music. They were also pure entertainers reaching before their label and starring in not only movies like the House Party but a brief stint with their own Saturday morning cartoon. Their success seemed to hinge on their biggest, literally, gimmick: Christopher ‘Kid’ Reid’s towering hair. Without it, the two were simply a pair of goofy entertainers who were consistently funny but without a gimmick. Made after the first two House Party films, Class Act looks to be an attempt to test the potential lasting appeal Kid ‘N Play had. And while not a horrible film, it certainly isn’t the type of feature that would make anyone an icon or even a star.
Reid plays Duncan Pinderhughes, a boy genius in need of gym credit to graduate and go onto university, presumably to become some sort of rocket scientist or something of the like. Christopher ‘Play’ Martin is Blade Brown, the rough kid from the wrong side of the tracks forced to stay in school instead of prison. Their files get mixed up and the pair’s roles invariably switch. It’s a modern spin on The Prince and the Pauper as each experience life from a totally opposite perspective.
Class Act is a predictable high school comedy that walks the line between satire and stereotypes. Much of the film is spent reinforcing stereotypes of everything you’d expect from an urban school: it’s tough, the teachers are clueless and without power, the big, mean looking dude is a big, mean dude – you get the picture. But by the end of the film, most of these stereotypes are pushed on their side. I wouldn’t go out and say that they’re set up in such a way that they’re deep commentaries on society circa 1992, but the intentions and level of seriousness are made apparent.
What I enjoyed most, besides chuckling at the horribly dated opening credits, fashions, soundtrack and pop culture references, were the characters. Reid, in particular, carries much of the comedy simply with his facial features. The main characters in the film are all distinct enough and developed enough to gain something from.
Class Act doesn’t appear to have had high aspirations other than as a light-hearted high school comedy from an urban angle. While nothing stands out as spectacular, nothing is unwatchable either. It has its inspired moments. The result is something worth a check (or revisit) with some nostalgia and a giggle in mind.
Class Act DVD Review
The on-demand Warner Archive label is the only way to currently get Class Act on DVD. The film is shown in a solid widescreen picture (1.85:1 aspect ratio). Audio is in English Dolby Surround. Like other Warner Archive titles, there are no notable bonus features.
Running Time: 98 minutes
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