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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Killing Mr. Griffin (1997)

"This concludes our time with "Julius Caesar." Maybe we should start with something simpler. My wife teaches sixth grade, I will see what she recommends."
- Mr. Griffin (Jay Thomas)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: September 29, 2003

Stars: Jay Thomas, Amy Jo Johnson, Scott Bairstow
Other Stars: Mario Lopez
Director: Jack Bender

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, violence, and some sensuality
Run Time: 01h:29m:42s
Release Date: August 26, 2003
UPC: 012236143192
Genre: suspense thriller


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C D-B-B- D-

DVD Review

I grew up with high school-themed films including The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and most importantly, Say Anything, which mirrored the my own generation and offered a look into the teenage psyche. Looking at the current crop of similar films, I am disheartened that they are vile, mean, and generally in bad taste. I bring this up because while viewing the filmed version of Lois Duncan's teen literary classic, Killing Mr. Griffin, I began to realize that for some unexplained reason, the premise is no longer about being young and unsure of yourself. Now it is all about violence and just simply being stupid.

Mr. Griffin (Thomas) is a high school English teacher with a penchant for pushing students to their breaking points in the hopes that it will make them understand their potential. When a group of seniors decide that they have had enough of Mr. Griffin's brash ways, they craft a plan to kidnap and humiliate him on video, so the entire school can see. But things go horribly wrong when, after leaving Mr. Griffin in the woods, the group comes back to discover him dead. With no one sure of what happened, the group begins to examine the possibilities before all of the clues lead the authorities to them.

Lois Duncan's classic high school mystery is a book with unlimited potential. Unfortunately, the end result of this filmed version is a wasted effort. To be honest, a movie about a group of high school students planing the ultimate revenge against their teacher is far from being good-natured, but this film almost treats it as a rite of passage for the students. The script also fails to create a single three-dimensional character; several of the perpetrators have less than a handful of lines, which is a problem when trying to figure out who actually killed Mr. Griffin. Better character development may have made for a more convincing picture. Scream scribe Kevin Williamson took a stab at a similar topic in Teaching Mrs. Tingle, and while his film was a less than perfect effort, it had the macabre sarcasm and cunning adversary that Killing Mr. Griffin lacks.

The performances are generally average across the board, especially Thomas in what could have been a stand out piece of work. His Griffin lacks the sheer meanness needed to create a character that the audience can easily despise.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: D-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, Killing Mr. Griffin looks as average as one would expect a television movie to look. Colors are nicely done with only slight bleeding evident throughout, while black levels offer nice depth and show little grain. I did notice some slight edge enhancement at times.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Surround track for is largely center-based with only slight activity in the front speakers as well as the surrounds. The dialogue in the center speaker is crisp and clear with no distortion.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu
Scene Access with 18 cues
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extra features have been offered for the Killing Mr. Griffin DVD.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Overal,l Killing Mr. Griffin is a waste of time on film, though the book is undoubtedly one of the better works of fiction aimed at a younger audience in recent memory. The DVD is bare bones with less than average audio and video portions, making this disc an easy pass.

 


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