Expelled (2014) Review

EXPELLED_POSTER_18x24Score: 2/5

“Expelled” is about Felix O’Neill (Cameron Dallas), a legendary prankster at his high school, who gets expelled — hence the title. The movie follows Felix as he tries to find every way possible to hide from his parents that he is no longer attending school.

If I can accept the premise for “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” then I can accept the premise of “Expelled.” Movies about American teendom are allowed to have unrealistic premises. They’re allowed to be shot with basic film school skills. They’re allowed to have sub-par screenplays. They’re allowed to completely forget that teenagers are human beings with complex emotions and thoughts as opposed to the caricatures that our culture is used to seeing.

However, I refuse to accept how cavalier star Cameron Dallas is behaving towards his overall grasp of the craft of acting. Granted, this is his first movie and that some slack should be cut for him. But exactly how much slack is there to be cut before it becomes inadmissible? Aside Dallas and Marcus Johns – also a Vine-star and not an actor – the adult performances were even bad. They have no excuse, they’ve been in the game longer.

The only two good performances were from Lia Marie Johnson – a famous YouTuber – and Matt Shively – a soon-to-be character actor. Johnson acted her role as Dallas’s love interest – because apparently teenage girls have no other role in society besides being the love interest of teenage boys – to the best of her abilities. Shively made due with a weak script which was just enough for him to shine in this film.

The other star of this film, Marcus Johns, was also bad but at least he had some sort of substance in his performance. Dallas didn’t even try. I spent 1 hour, 25 minutes watching Dallas be pretty for the camera. From what I got from the dialogue, Felix is supposed to be a little cocky with a hint of witty at his most basic conception. I didn’t even see that from Dallas. I just saw him recite lines with absolutely no sense of rhythm.

The anxiety I felt while watching his performance was similar to the anxiety of watching the wide receiver as Brick in a high school production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” I would rather watch that as opposed to another minute of Felix O’Neill ironically breaking the fourth wall.

I had no greater joy than when the credits appeared on screen. I had finally finished it. Through thick and thicker, I somehow found the strength to restrain myself from being thoroughly offended by Dallas’s performance.

I can forgive if he is simply a bad actor, but that’s not the case. He has the ability to be good. What he needs is proper training and more respect and understanding of what makes acting a unique discipline.

I read a positive review of this film that stated that the movie industry was going in the right direction with this film. And if that’s the case, may my greatest joy be the moment when the entire institution crumbles before my eyes.

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