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Assassination of a High School President

Assassination of a High School President is a 2008 American neo noir comedy film, directed by Brett Simon, written by Tim Calpin and Kevin Jakubowski, and starring Reece Thompson, Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Emily Meade and Michael Rapaport. It premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.[1]

Assassination of a High School President
DVD release cover
Directed byBrett Simon
Produced byBob Yari
Roy Lee
Doug Davison
Written byTim Calpin
Kevin Jakubowski
StarringReece Thompson
Bruce Willis
Mischa Barton
Michael Rapaport
Kathryn Morris
Emily Meade
Josh Pais
Music byDaniele Luppi
CinematographyM. David Mullen
Edited byWilliam M. Anderson
Thomas J. Nordberg
Distributed byYari Film Group
Release date
  • January 17, 2008 (2008-01-17) (Sundance Film Festival)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$6,000,000

The film had been scheduled for limited theatrical release on February 27, 2009, but that release was postponed indefinitely following the bankruptcy of its distributor, Yari Film Group's releasing division.[2] It was released on DVD in the United States on October 6, 2009.



Robert "Bobby" Funke is a less than popular high school sophomore with a dream to get into Northwestern University's summer journalism program. Although Funke claims he's a great writer, he has never finished an article for the school’s newspaper. Editor-in-chief Clara Diaz assigns Funke to do an article on Paul Moore, the student council president and star of the school’s basketball team. Funke is unable to get a story out of Paul and is bullied by Paul's friends.

Principal Kirkpatrick discovers the upcoming SAT booklets have been stolen from a safe in his office. Kirkpatrick rounds up his "usual suspects" of misfits, including Funke. The group is innocent, but Kirkpatrick warns them to watch their step.

When senior Francesca Facchini solicits Funke's help tracking down the stolen SATs, Funke slowly uncovers a story. His investigation links Paul to the crime, which he writes in an article for the school paper. Kirkpatrick forces Paul to open his locker and the SATs fall out.

Funke becomes one of the most popular kids at school. Clara decides to submit his article to Northwestern, which earns him a scholarship to the summer program. Funke wins the respect of everyone, from Principal Kirkpatrick to Francesca, who asks him to a school dance.

Paul confronts Funke, proclaiming his innocence, stating that he was already accepted to Cornell on a sports scholarship and did not need the SATs. Funke begins to wonder if he is just a pawn in a conspiracy, and he investigates Paul's shady friends, all members of the student council. He discovers their involvement with drug dealing. The council had actually stolen the SATs along with other tests throughout the year, modifying the marks of the best students to make them doubt their test-taking abilities and turn to the council for "study drugs". Paul wasn't in on the crime, so group ringleader Marlon Piazza had Paul framed to avoid being caught, while Marlon’s step-sibling and sex partner, Francesca, led Funke along to keep him from finding out the truth.

Funke confronts the council in the principal's office. Marlon threatens to have Funke thrown out the window and frame it as a suicide, but his threat and confession are heard on the school's intercom system, which Bobby had secretly activated. Kirkpatrick rushes into the office, followed by Francesca. Francesca attempts to gain Funke’s trust, only to be shut down and left to her punishment.



The fictional St. Donovan's High School was inspired by the Catholic high schools of writers Tim Calpin and Kevin Jakubowski. Calpin attended Scranton Preparatory School in Scranton, Pennsylvania, while Jakubowski attended Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois. The look of the school and style of dress were drawn from these high schools. The school mascot (Friar) and the school emblem (cross of the Dominican Order) was derived from Fenwick. The movie was shot on location at Bayonne High School in Bayonne, New Jersey.[3]


The film was scheduled for a February 17 limited theatrical release, followed by a wide release on March 27. The release date was not met as its distributor Yari Film Group's releasing division filed for bankruptcy. This attracted a response in the media urging a theatrical release, and to avoid a direct-to-DVD release by Sony, who own the home video distribution rights. Several journalists advised that the film should at least receive a limited theatrical release, and encouraged fans to support the film on social networking sites such as Facebook.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

In May 2009, Barton spoke to reporters about the future of the film: "They just can't get the funding to distribute it. The movie is complete and ready to go but there is no release date set and it is not looking likely there will be one."[14]

In Russia, the film was not released to theaters but premiered on May 14, 2009 on the Russian free-to-air channel TNT TV.[15][16]

In August 2009, despite fan protests, it was finally stated that due to YFG's bankruptcy the film would not receive a theatrical release, and would instead be released straight-to-DVD on October 6, 2009.[17][18]

In April 2010, the film was released in Portugal, distributed by Ecofilmes.[19] Over the following months, the film was released in various markets, including on June 11, 2010 in Australia.


Critical responseEdit

The film holds a 50% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on ten reviews, indicating a mixed critical reaction. The film was highly praised by MTV, favourably comparing it to Rushmore, The Usual Suspects, Chinatown, Sixteen Candles and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The network added that "The film's central mystery keeps you guessing intelligently, but brilliantly balances every reference to Nietzsche with a joke about a chocolate swirly." The casting choices were also praised, Willis is "hilariously intense" and Barton "brings the femme fatale back for a new generation."[20]

The Hollywood Reporter cited the film's lack of "novel insights" but praised the performance of two of its actors, Thompson is "completely convincing" and Barton is "captivating".[21]


  1. ^ "Sundance Review: Assassination of a High School President". Film School Rejects. 25 January 2008.
  2. ^ Eller, Claudia (2008-12-12). "Court compels Yari Film Group's releasing unit into Chapter 11". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 1 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
  3. ^ Sullivan, Al. "Movie stars seen around Hudson County" The Union City Reporter; September 23, 2007; Page 8
  4. ^ Help Save Assassination of a High School President From Going Direct To DVD Slash. 12 March 2009
  5. ^ Activism: Brilliant High School ‘Assassination’ Foiled by Studio Collapse, Needs Our Help Film School Rejects. 13 March 2009
  6. ^ Is ASSASSINATION OF A HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT getting shafted? Looks like! Aintitcool 13 March 2009
  7. ^ Buzzworthy "Assassination of a High School President" Destined For DVD Death The Business Insider. 14 March 2009
  8. ^ Help Save Assassination of a High School President from DVD Doom! First Showing. 13 March 2009
  9. ^ Mischa Barton’s ‘High School President’ May Graduate To DVD MTV. 13 March 2009
  10. ^ Yari's Woes Threaten 'Assassination of a High School President' Cinematical. 13 March 2009
  11. ^ Attention Movie Studios! Someone please pick up ASSASSINATION OF A HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT Collider. 13 March 2009
  12. ^ Saving a HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT Archived July 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Obsessed with film. 13 March 2009
  13. ^ Help Save ‘Assassination of a High School President’ Flick Cast. 30 June 2009
  14. ^ Barton's new movie missing money for launch Ireland Online. 18 May 2009
  15. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in Russian) "TNT-TV guide for May 14" (in Russian). 2009-05-13.
  16. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in Russian) "Film's description in the TNT-TV guide" (in Russian). 2009-05-13.
  17. ^ ‘Assassination of a High School President’ Snags a Release Date Retrieved August 8, 2009
  18. ^ Assassination of a High School President Arrives on DVD in October Archived August 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved August 8, 2009
  19. ^ document.write(date_dayname); (2012-08-11). "Crítica - Assassination of a High School President (2008) | Portal Cinema". Retrieved 2017-08-21.
  20. ^ 'Assassination Of A High School President': A Sundance Review MTV. 23 January 2008
  21. ^ Assassination of a High School President-Bottom Line: Good performances can't dispel the stale feel of this teen satire Hollywood Reporter. 25 January 2008

External linksEdit