British humor (humour) has a specific uniqueness unto its own. Fans of the groundbreaking television series ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ recognize common themes like men portraying female characters and anything but subtle gags as common recipes for English silliness.
Cartoonist Ronald Seale rose to prominence with his 1941 cartoon ‘St. Trinian’s’ which depicted an all-girls boarding school with chaos and crazy characters at every turn of the page. Olivia Parker and Barnaby Thompson brought the illustrations to life in 2007 with the release of “St. Trinian’s.” The result is what one could or should expect from British comedy; a silly movie that offers a ridiculous plot and includes lots of laughs at elementary levels of humor.
The viewer is introduced to the St. Trinian’s school right from the beginning; a place where the inmates literally run the asylum and they don’t take kindly to strangers. Annabelle Fritton (Talulah Riley) is a new student at the school, and quickly learns it will take a lot to fit in with the others.
Like any good school based comedy the girls of St. Trinian’s are divided into cliques that range from Geeks, Emos (not Goths) and beautiful but vapid Posh Totty’s. A comical dynamic is the age range of the girls, which runs from elementary school kids to fully grown women. Fronting the band of miscreants is Kelly Jones (Gemma Arterton) the “head girl.”
Aside from Annabelle’s adjustment to the new school, a plot is introduced that depicts the academy in financial crisis, and under the watchful eye of the stern Minister of Education Geoffrey Thwaites (Colin Firth). The girls are forced to unite their respective cliques and carry out a scheme designed at saving their beloved institution.
“St. Trinian’s” is the type of movie that you’ll hate yourself for loving. The assortment of girls portraying the students are genuinely funny, with Gemma Arterton’s dominant alpha girl Kelly playing perfectly alongside the shy Annabelle. Tamsin Egerton is hysterical as Chelsea, the ditsy leader of the Posh Totty clique, and Colin Firth is brilliant as always, perfectly cast as the snooty antagonist.
Dating back to the plays of Shakespeare, British entertainment often includes male characters cross-dressing and “St. Trinian’s” is no exception.
Rupert Everett appears in a dual role; Annabelle’s high society father and the headmistress of the school Miss Fritton. Rupert Everett is an award winning actor of both stage and screen, and pulls off the roles with his trademark overbite and perfectly placed demeanor.
Miss Fritton is the central authority figure at St. Trinian’s, and someone who cares deeply for the school itself and her charge. A comical romantic dalliance between the brutish Miss Fritton and the eloquent Geoffrey Thwaites will have you in stitches.
The movie lags a bit at times; its running time of 1:40 would have been better served at 1:30 but the jokes are spread well throughout. The interactions with the girls of St. Trinian’s are clever and witty.
One truly funny scene depicts the dubious St. Trinian’s swindler (played perfectly by Russell Brand) conducting a lesson with the girls on ways to illegally obtain the funds needed to save the school. Its a hysterical interaction and the type of thing that makes the movie work well as a whole.
It’s a stupid movie, pure and simple. But sometimes those make for the best in terms of enjoyment and watchability. It’s like a British and female version of “Revenge of the Nerds” or “Porkys.”
You’ll find yourself laughing at dumb things, smiling throughout, and cheering on the girls as they try to save their school.
“St. Trinian’s” isn’t a lesson in the finer arts of film making, but its a funny and enjoyable movie in its own weird sort of way.
by – Matt Christopher