Scott (Ryan Phillippe) has been in and out of rehab for the past 10 years. He surprises his high school sweetheart Katherine (Anna Paquin) by showing up unexpectedly. His dead mother has appeared to him and told him to return home and see his brother Williams (Luke Wilson), now married to Katherine, and his sick father (Powers Boothe). Katherine’s two children are enthralled with Scott, and Katherine begins to feel a connection between the two again. William is away on business, and struggling with fidelity issues of his own. Scott’s care-free life keeps him a certain distance from the family, but his presence is something that will change everyone’s life forever.
I’m still not sure why this is titled Straight A’s
aside from some side conversation Scott has with Katherine’s son. This scene tries to make sense of the movie in that no one should always strive to be perfect, and sometimes things aren’t. Death is something that works into that theme as well. Unfortunately nothing is tied together well enough to matter.
I was left wondering what difference Scott had made in anyone’s life and it felt less meaningful with the inevitable ending. William isn’t home but for a few hours with Scott, and his father wants nothing to do with him. As much as Straight A’s reaches for spirituality, it lands far from its goal and comes off as a trite movie that doesn’t understand the values it purports to have. The ending is also incredibly contrived and drawn out, it doesn’t fit with the rest of film. Or maybe it does, as every choice here seems to be the safe one.
Nice direction and strong acting can’t save this snooze-fest of unrelenting nothingness. With characters that are drowning in self-loathing, for which no great reason is ever revealed, the title Straight A’s must be referring to the expletive rather than the grade. Although I’d never give this movie that much credit.
Director: James Cox
Stars: Anna Paquin, Ryan Phillippe, Luke Wilson, Powers Boothe