by Eric D. Snider
Released: March 31, 2000
"The Skulls" stars pudgy-faced, non-leading-man Joshua Jackson as its leading man, a non-rich Ivy-Leaguer named Lucas McNamara who becomes part of an extremely non-secret secret organization called The Skulls.
But guess what? The Skulls do dark, bad things, and Lucas is bothered by this. Forgive me if the remainder of this review is nothing but questions, but I can't think of any other approach to take.
How secret can this group be when they have their own building, clearly labeled, in the middle of campus? Couldn't you figure out who the members are by just watching to see who goes in and comes out?
For that matter, couldn't you tell who the members are by observing which students suddenly acquire brand-new sports cars, or who suddenly start acting secretive, or who mysteriously quit spending time with all their friends?
And the other secret societies on campus (are ALL Ivy League schools crawling with them?), which also have their own buildings: Wouldn't they figure "pledge night" would be the night they should be MOST vigilant, to prevent would-be Skulls from sneaking into their building and stealing their stuff as an initiation? Apparently not, 'cause that's what Lucas and fellow pledge Caleb Mandrake (Paul Walker) do, and no one seems to notice.
What college student in America, besides Lucas, uses a typewriter?
If you're really serious about keeping the proceedings inside your top-secret club a secret, why would you have surveillance cameras all over the place? And then, when someone is accidentally purposely killed in the building, why wouldn't you dispose of the tape promptly, rather than storing it with all the other tapes in a non-secret secret location in the school library?
Near the end of the film, Lucas finally decides to challenge the Skulls in their evil doings and cover-ups, and he obeys Skull protocol by invoking Rule #119 (the Skulls have their own handy rule book, with the member's name embossed on it, and apparently no one's roommate has ever stumbled across one in the group's 200-year history). Rule #119 says that the two members who have a grievance with each other shall settle the matter by means of a pistol duel.
"A duel?!" says Caleb incredulously. "You have GOT to be kidding!"
My thoughts exactly. "The Skulls" is a movie populated entirely by stupid people doing stupid things, yet it somehow escapes being anything more than mildly irritating. In fact, for as dumb as it is, at least it's never boring. It's never thrilling, either, or logical. But for cheap diversion, it's passable. Just don't ask too many questions.
Rated PG-13, scattered profanities, brief-and-clothed sexuality, violence that is a little gross, but not too heavy
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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