Putting hair dye in the principal’s hat, rigging the sprinkler system with colored dye, filling the trophy case with marine life: If pulling highwire pranks with virtually no repercussions constitutes “The Worst Years of My Life,” you don’t know how good you’ve got it, pal.
And “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” has it pretty good, as far as tweenage comedies go. The film has a witty script and a bold comic spirit, spurring unexpected laughs from a standard tale of suburban middle school rebellion.
Rafe Khatchadorian (Griffin Gluck) is starting a new school mid-semester after being kicked out of his previous two schools. He’s an artist type who is always doodling in his sketchbook, an escape from his troubles at home, including mom’s (Lauren Graham, always Lorelai Gilmore) bozo of a boyfriend (Rob Riggle, hilarious as an obnoxious doofus).
On his first day, Rafe immediately clashes with the school’s uptight principal (Andy Daly, “Eastbound & Down”), who is prepping his students for an upcoming standardized test. Rafe sets into action a series of elaborate pranks, the type which proliferate in movies like this and on Nickelodeon shows, but would likely result in expulsion or jail time in any real world scenario.
No matter. Despite a cringe-worthy gaffe with regards to the Wu-Tang Clan’s geographical origins, “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” is harmless fun with a trace of anarchy in its DNA. A third-act twist aims higher than most movies of its ilk but follows the film’s guiding principle: Rules aren’t for everyone, and “Middle School” is happy to break them.
‘Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life’
Rated PG for rude humor throughout, language and thematic elements
Running time: 92 minutes