It's time for a typical review for a typical made-for-TV movie. In Showtime's
In A Class of His Own, Lou Diamond Phillips plays Rich Donato, a high-school
janitor in Oregon. Instead of janitor, he also comes across as councilor and coach
to the kids.
In the fashion of Stand By Me and other films set in high school there are
the group of kids that stand out and a character that must face his/her own
inner fears before overcoming the obstacle in front of them. These typical elements
are here, as Donato must accept help from those that look up to him to pass
his GED test or lose his job.
The main problem with the film is that it takes the better half to get going
and establish what is really happening. At first glance it looks to be an inspiration
film with Donato helping out and working toward a more respected place in the
system. It's not until later that we learn that he suffers a learning disorder
and never graduated High School. In a reversal of roles, he is afraid to try
and must rely upon his wife and students to push him toward success.
Rather than focusing on the problem, it would have been more interesting to
focus on the deeds and actions that made Donato such a beloved person in the
community. Phillips talks about the real Donato (who has a small part in the
film) and the extraordinary things he observed while following him around for
two weeks. I would like to have seen those things as well. Obviously, we all
know that he keeps his job or this wouldn't have been made into a film in the
first place, so lets see what makes him tick.
The Video: The 4:3 presentation is direct from Showtime, but feels cramped.
The presentation itself is nice enough with a good saturation and look to the
transfer. The is no noticeable degradation of the video that detracts in the
The Audio: The only true fault on the disc is the horrible stereo mix
that is the only option available. This was a prerelease copy, so I hope that
there were more options on the official release. The mix was horrible and the
voices seemed lost in-between the left and right. A Pro-Logic mix would have
at least separated the vocals out.
Extras: Being a made-for-cable movie there no extras to speak of on
the disc. The end credits have a short selection of interviews with the director,
Donato, and Lou Diamond Phillips.
Overall: It's a sub-par docudrama that is hampered by a cast that consists
mainly of Phillips. The lack of focus until the middle of the story also hurts
and you may not care about the characters by the time it's clear what's going