‘Graduation’: Implausibilities hinder low-budget heist picture

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, May 1, 2008 1:55pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

The plot of “Graduation” is so preposterous, you can’t blame director Mike Mayer for simply ignoring its implausibilities. This low-budget indie simply puts its head down and steams ahead.

Maybe that was the best way to go, because if you can get past the absurdities of the set-up, you might find that the movie actually gets some momentum going.

Of course, it is a heist picture. So the basic issue of “how’re they gonna get the money out?” kicks into gear, a generally unbeatable hook.

Four high school seniors hatch the plan. One of them has a dying mother whose insurance won’t pay for a last-chance operation, so they decide to rob a bank.

Polly (Shannon Lucio) has an “in” at the bank — her father (Adam Arkin) runs the place. Her three friends conform to usual types — the jock (Riley Smith), the punk/nerd (Chris Marquette), the brooding-yet-handsome loner (Chris Lowell).

Their scheme is to extract money from the vault during their graduation ceremony, thus giving themselves a perfect alibi. (It doesn’t occur to anybody to ask why they wouldn’t be missed by their classmates, or noticed when they suddenly return.)

Polly is valedictorian, which complicates the scheme, since she will be required to get up in front of the school and speak. Her talent for off-the-cuff speaking is tested when things don’t go as planned.

Red-headed Shannon Lucio is a real comer as the cool, level-headed Polly; the other actors hit their spots with varying degrees of success. Director Mayer shows off some ability to organize the action, and he’s obviously watched “Dog Day Afternoon” a few times.

But phew, those plot turns. This is a movie in which people do things because the story line needs them to, not because they would really act that way. If you have too many examples of that happening within a 90-minute movie, it doesn’t matter how clever the heist is.

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