Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival 2018 Review: “Adventures in Public School” (2017) ★★★


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Public school is a great place to study – one can always learn something new and make new friends. We all want our parents or even our country to be proud of who we’ve become. A school is also a place where the child can experience the first heartbreak, slowly grow apart from home and parents, and eventually, get ready to enter adulthood. If might seem that those children who are homeschooled miss a lot of unforgettable experiences, such as the student life in a public school, falling in love for the first time and maybe even getting a girlfriend. Although all these things do not necessarily happen in school, Liam – the protagonist of “Adventures in Public School” has never experienced any of those until his equivalency Exam.

Claire (portrayed by always funny Judy Geer), is an overprotective mother who has been keeping her son Liam away from public school. Being a homeschool teacher, Claire has given him good knowledge, preparing him not only for exams but also to dream about studying in Cambridge and becoming an astronaut.  According to Claire, public school is an Institution of little expectation and she makes sure that her son has more than enough knowledge to pass his exams successfully to be a high school graduate. Liam does not disappoint his mom. He does pass his exams but eventually chooses to fake his result because of his high school sweetheart Anastasia – a girl with one leg, who he meets in the school.

At the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Claire and Liam and their tight friendship. They understand each other perfectly; both are intelligent and super funny. Even though you may not be laughing all the time throughout the movie, there are some wicked lines and moments that will make you smile. When Liam intentionally fails his exam, he asks his mother to allow him to enter a Public school for one week to be able to take the exam again. He is allowed to stay at school as a replacement to Maria Sanchez – a mysterious student with some unknown disease.

Liam has only one thing on his mind – Anastasia. But on his challenging journey to winning her heart, he is going to face all the aspects of real school life – being bullied, learning to flirt, drinking, and even making friends. All these are nothing in comparison to the journey that both the mother and the son have to go through as they slowly grow apart.

In conclusion, “Adventures in Public School” co-written with Josh Epstein and directed by Kyle Rideout, is one of those rare low budget comedies with a joyful and enchanting outcome. Mainly, it is due to the thoughtfully written script, good directing and the great chemistry between Judy Greer and Daniel Doheny, delivering one of the best mother-and-son relationships onscreen.

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