The Prank, 2022.
Directed by Maureen Bharoocha.
Starring Rita Moreno, Kate Flannery, Connor Kalopsis, Ramona Young, Keith David, Meredith Salenger, Jonathan Kimmel, Nathan Janak, Betsy Sodaro, and Romel de Silva.
Ben and his slacker friend, Tanner play a prank on their high school physics professor. When she fails them on a test, they teach the demanding instructor a lesson by falsely accusing her of murder on social media.
Before ripping into The Prank it should be prefaced that there should be concerns and awareness over the framing capabilities within new technologies such as deepfaking. Think of it as state-of-the-art Photoshop that goes one step further into fraudulent videos for those, not in the know.
Unfortunately, director Maureen Bharoocha (using a script from Rebecca Flinn-White and Zak White) is only out to tell the most ridiculous and misguided, and predictable version possible of this story. High school senior Ben Palmer (Connor Kalopsis) is an overachiever determined to earn the necessary grades to attend the same college as his father. However, after someone cheats on an exam inside Mrs. Wheeler’s (Rita Moreno having a bit of demented fun, which is about the only aspect worth applauding here) physics class, the stern and no-nonsense lecture decide that unless the responsible one confesses, everyone will fail the course.
Enter Ben’s extremely online and possibly sociopathic friend Tanner (Ramona Young, who is told to play this mean-spirited character as quirky and charming), who takes Ben’s suggestion of getting her back with a traditional prank as a call for something much darker. Tanner whips up years of online history from Mrs. Wheeler, pinpointing her as a murderer inside a missing person’s cold case of a former student.
The Prank seems to want to shine a light on how gullible adults can be and what the high school news cycle is like, but it’s doomed from the get-go by horrible characters painted as doing something whimsical and harmless. And then, when the situation does get more serious, the story eventually vindicates their actions anyway. The joke is on anyone that watches this.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com