DirectorHart Bochner Initial DVD releaseMarch 31, 1998 Duration CountryUnited States
WriterDavid Zucker, Robert LoCash, Pat Proft Release dateOctober 25, 1996 (1996-10-25) CastJon Lovitz (Richard Clark), Tia Carrere (Victoria Chapell), Louise Fletcher (Schuldirektorin Evelyn Doyle), Mekhi Phifer (Griff McReynolds), Natasha Gregson Wagner (Julie Rubels), John Neville (Thaddeus Clark) Similar moviesIn the House, Terminator Salvation, Blue Is the Warmest Color, The Boy Next Door, Let's Be Cops, Cars
TaglineA Dangerous Mind is a terrible thing to waste
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High School High is a 1996 comedy film about an inner city high school in the Los Angeles, California area, starring Jon Lovitz, Tia Carrere, Mekhi Phifer, Louise Fletcher, Malinda Williams, and Brian Hooks. It is a spoof of movies concerning idealistic teachers being confronted with a class of cynical teenagers, disengaged by conventional schooling, and loosely parodies The Principal, Dangerous Minds, Lean on Me, The Substitute, and Stand and Deliver. It also notably parodies the LA River drag race from Grease.
Richard Clark (Jon Lovitz) is an unsatisfied prep school teacher at the fictional Wellington Academy, who accepts a job at inner city Marion Barry High School, much to the chagrin of his boss and father, Wellington headmaster Thaddeus Clark (John Neville). Richard arrives to find the school in a state of disarray and disorder, while meeting several students and faculty members, including jaded, sour principal Evelyn Doyle (Louise Fletcher), her cheerful assistant Victoria Chappell (Tia Carrere) and student Griff McReynolds (Mekhi Phifer).
Despite initial opposition to his teaching style and harassment from the school gang leader Paco (Guillermo Díaz), Richard begins connecting with his students and teaches them effectively, while developing a romantic relationship with Victoria. Barry High eventually is transformed into a fine educational establishment. Frustrated, Paco and his gang tamper with the school's final exam scores, causing everyone to fail. Griff, who grew to see Richard as a mentor, loses faith in him, as does the rest of the school and Richard is fired. Griff subsequently joins Paco's gang to make extra money.
Victoria learns through word of mouth that Paco was behind the failing test scores and rushes to inform Richard, who decides to confront Paco and rescue Griff with the help of several of his students, including Anferny Jefferson (Brian Hooks), Natalie Thompson (Malinda Williams) and Julie Rubels (Natasha Gregson Wagner). By deceiving Mr. DeMarco (Marco Rodríguez), a local gangster, Richard and Victoria reach Paco and the local crime boss, "Mr. A", whom they find has been Principal Doyle the entire time. Griff is told the truth about the test scores and after a brief fight, Paco, Doyle and DeMarco are arrested.
Richard (now principal of Barry High) presides over the graduation ceremony and proudly names Griff as the class valedictorian. The six main students of the film graduate (but only those six). Richard makes good on his promise to send Griff to college and is in a relationship with Victoria.
Jon Lovitz as Richard Clark, a naive Caucasian teacher whose main goal is to help underachieving students at Marion Barry High School succeed.
Lovitz also plays his own mother.
Tia Carrere as Victoria Chappell, the principal's assistant who sympathizes with Richard.
Louise Fletcher as Principal Evelyn Doyle, who believes Richard will fail.
Mekhi Phifer as Griff McReynolds, one of Clark's students and a former gang member who aspires to graduate high school and attend college.
Malinda Williams as Natalie Thompson, Griff's girlfriend.
Guillermo Díaz as Paco de la Vega al Camino Cordoba Jose Cuervo Sanchez Rodriguez Jr., Griff's former gang partner.
Brian Hooks as Anferny Jefferson, one of Clark's students. He is a slightly dimwitted gang member who only knows of urban pop culture.
Natasha Gregson Wagner as Julie Rubels, one of Clark's students who is a teenage mother with many children.
Marco Rodríguez as Mr. DeMarco, a gangster who is in the midst of a shady "business" deal with Paco and another mysterious gangster known as "Mr. A".
John Neville as Thaddeus Clark, Richard's father.
Lexie Bigham as Two-Bags, a member of Paco's gang.
Gil Espinoza as Alonzo, a member of Paco's gang.
Baoan Coleman as Mou Mou Bartender
The film opened at #2 on the weekend of October 25, 1996, behind the film Sleepers. The film remained in the top 5 for the next two weekends, making it a modest box office success.
The film received generally negative reviews upon its release. It currently holds a 13% rating of "Rotten" on the Tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes along with a 37% rating of "Liked it" by audiences.
The film's soundtrack was released on September 10, 1996 through Big Beat Records and contained hip hop and R&B music. The album did well on the Billboard charts, making it to #20 on the Billboard 200 and #4 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and was also certified Gold by the RIAA for selling over 500,000 copies in the United States of America. In addition, 5 singles made it to the charts, the most successful of which was RZA's "Wu-Wear: The Garment Renaissance", which peaked at #60 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #6 on the Hot Rap Singles.