by Tim May
As Dan implied in his review of Student Union, truth in advertising can go a long way toward making trash like School Spirit palatable. When you see a cover like the one above, you have certain… expectations. School Spirit meets, but does not exceed them.
Billy Batson (who must have been named after Captain Marvel) is a college horndog who’s gotten involved in some sort of student government organization simply in order to make a new conquest of Judith Hightower, a smart girl from one of his classes. It’s all looking up for Billy’s quest. Judith seems to like him, so he makes his move when they’re alone in the dean’s office. One problem—once the big lug has Judith where he wants her, Billy is stuck without a condom. Judith, ever vigilant, forces him to go find one before she’ll let Billy have his way with her. After checking all the obvious places, he finds a condom dispenser in a sleazy bar bathroom. Apparently too overwhelmed with joy, Billy doesn’t pay much attention to traffic as he rushes back to the dean’s office, and collides with a huge truck and dies instantly, condom still clenched tightly in his hand.
After his body is taken to the hospital, the ghost of Billy’s uncle Pinky (John Finnegan), an old sleezeball charmer who died when Billy was a child, is sent to whisk Billy away to the afterlife. For Billy, the biggest bummer about this whole death thing is that he never got to hook up with Judith. Pinky, who is truly his nephew’s uncle, understands and decides to give Billy 24 hours to take care of any unfinished business. Conveniently, Billy simply must tap his head twice to become visible, so tap tap—off to make his final conquest.
Death initially seems to give Billy a bit more heart. He goes on about how Judith was the true love of his life (or at least the only one he hadn’t fucked yet), and about how he’s going to make the best of his last day on Earth. When he finally meets up with Judith, she has to pick up a French foreign exchange student with the dean. Billy offers to come along. The dean is played by Larry Linville, most well known as Frank Burns on M*A*S*H, a fact the cover proudly advertises, as if your average M*A*S*H viewer would let that sway them into renting a mediocre sex comedy. Linville imbues his performance here with much of that flustered authoritarian daffiness which defined his most iconic role, but Billy is no Hawkeye Pierce, so his exasperation feels like a waste.
All that progress Billy seemed to be making is thrown out the window when we meet the French exchange student, Sandy. Judith is thrown to the side and Sandy becomes Billy’s new target. Her defining character trait is that she is French and she is apparently charmed by Billy’s heretofore thoroughly unapparent charms.
Billy and Sandy team up with the dean’s slutty underage daughter Helen (whose only purpose is to provide another set of tits the viewer won’t get to see) to attend a “Hog Day” party. Hog Day is some sort of school spirit celebration for the school involving a slip ‘n’ slide and a giant inflatable pig and an insufferably terrible band called The Gleaming Spires. The dean fulfills the dean role and heartily disapproves of it.
Billy often seems to forget that he’s about to die and the movie seems to forget this fact even more frequently. After all the spectacle of Hog Day and going through a couple “soul mates” in the span of something like six hours, Billy has to face the music. Uncle Pinky comes to pick him up and take him to his eternal rest, when, in a pretty unclear turn of events, it’s revealed that he never actually died and his body makes a miraculous recovery. The ending, much like the rest of the film, is a warmed over, microwaved pile of shit.
What School Spirit lacks in plotting and characterization, it makes up for in a pleasant tone, an easy going pace, and yes, lots of tits, though not necessarily the ones you most wanted to see.
School Spirit was released by Media Home Entertainment in a slipcase. It was released on DVD in 2005.