*1/2 (out of four)
Looking “Scream” in the face and blurting, “You call that self-referential?” the horror-comedy “Detention” unfolds with the hyperactive, exaggerated cleverness of Generation Now. That's not a compliment.
Some people called “Project X” an obnoxious encapsulation of today's attention span-deprived adolescents; I'll take 20 wild parties before one onslaught of pop culture references so pleased with themselves they may as well be mumbled into a mirror. Hanson! C+C Music Factory! “My So-Called Life!” Get it, the ’90s are hilarious now, and if we make a joke about how overdone this is, it allows us to do it more!
The story focuses on a nice guy named Clapton (Josh Hutcherson of “The Hunger Games”), the hottie he likes (Spencer Locke), the best friend who likes Clapton (Shanley Caswell) and a killer who's hunting high school students. In case that's not enough, “Detention” blends a ridiculously over-the-top sci-fi element into its rambling witticisms, desperately striving for the smarts and fun that “The Cabin in the Woods” achieves through good ideas, not relentless attitude.
Oddly enough, “Detention” possesses a few pockets of awesomeness underneath all that breathless irony, including a hilarious Canadian debate expert (Travis Fleetwood) who's officially my all-time favorite movie character named Gord. Buried underneath the aggressive, cult following-hungry snark exists a tale of high school empowerment that could have been terrifically strange. For the college version of that attempt to turn the exaggerated emotional peaks of youth into an impending apocalypse, rent “Kaboom,” which makes a mess you don’t want to clean up.
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