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Dead Man on Campus

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Dead Man on Campus

Starring: Tom Everett Scott, Mark Paul Gosselaar
Director: Alan Cohn
Rated: R
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: August 1998
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Poppy Montgomery, Lochlyn Munro, Randy Pearlstein, Corey Page, Alyson Hannigan, Mari Morrow

Review by MrBrown
1 star out of 4

While I am not fond of any writer's use of cheap, easy puns, I am not completely above using them myself when the situation merits it (witness my review of _Pecker_ from a couple of issues ago). So here goes: the juvenile, college-set black comedy _Dead_Man_on_Campus_ is dead on arrival.

Strait-laced med student Josh (Tom Everett Scott, who manages to remain somewhat likable throughout)'s blemish-free academic record breaks out into Fs, thanks to the influence of his ever-partying roommate, Cooper (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), who introduces Josh to the sex- and booze-filled nights that come with university life. With the threat of losing an academic scholarship (Josh) and a life cleaning toilets for his dad looming (Cooper), what are two good-hearted slackers to do? Easy--look for a loophole, which they find in the form of an unbelievable rule in the school charter that states that if a student's (or students') roommate commits suicide, the surviving student(s) shall receive straight As. So instead of studying, Josh and Cooper attempt to seek out the most depressed student out there, move him into their dorm room, and drive him to suicide before the semester ends.

Director Alan Cohn and screenwriters Michael Traeger and Mike White (working from a story by Anthony Abrams and Adam Larson Broder) take their sweet time to build the head of steam that comes with Josh and Cooper's diabolical plot. Until then, the usual boring cliches of college life (booze, sex, more booze) fill the time, which is made to feel longer by _Saved_by_the_Bell_ alumnus Gosselaar's sitcom-bred mugging. That said, once Cohn and company do build some comic momentum, they mishandle it. The introduction of the manic, psychotic Cliff (Lochlyn Munro), a potential roommate for Josh and Cooper, brings some demented life to the uninspired proceedings before being hastily written out in favor of two less interesting candidates: paranoid nerd Buckley (Randy Pearlstein) and British death rocker Matt (Corey Page). One wishes that Cliff would reappear, but, as they say, be careful what you wish for. Not surprisingly, he does resurface, and it then becomes clear that this is a character that is best taken in a small dose; almost immediately, his extended boorish and sociopathic antics loses its novelty.

The same can be said about all of _Dead_Man_on_Campus_. Whatever morbid appeal the far-fetched premise has quickly evaporates, and the self-absorbed characters, especially Cooper, pretty much grate from the get-go. _Dead_Man_ doesn't grow tiresome; it already _is_ once the clever opening titles are through. As it slogs along to a cheesy, happy-for-all-parties conclusion, _Dead_Man_ lives up to its title and then some--not only does the movie grow even more tired and die, it still insists on going on... like a zombie.

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