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A boy from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, caught up in the drug scene of the mid-70s, gets in trouble one too many times with the law. To stave off a jail term, his father arranges for him to be placed into a prep school in Cornwall, Connecticut. The terms: Graduate, or else. Written by
Matt Cotnoir <email@example.com>
Outside Providence does not seem like much from the preview, but it turns out to be a surprisingly good comedy.
Outside Providence seems like just another low budget, goofy high school comedy from the preview, but it is really a good movie. Timothy Dunphy is the lovable high school screw-up whose father sends him off to boarding school after he is involved in an accident with a parked police cruiser while smoking pot with his loser buddies. He develops an unlikely romantic relationship with the stunningly beautiful Jane Weston (Amy Smart) at the repressive school while fighting off the disciplinary excesses of the school faculty. This seems like the premise of the kind of ridiculous high school comedies that characterized the 80s (Screwballs, Ski School, etc.), but Outside Providence works well because it has heart.
Timothy Dunphy is sent off unwillingly to this hellish school, and it turns out to be a really eye-opening experience for him. He develops a lot of insight about himself, his friends, his romantic endeavors, and his family. The story is not exactly something that is entirely original, but the presentation of the film and the acting are extremely good, and the end result is a great comedy. Alec Baldwin delivers a hilarious performance as the emotionally closed-off father, regularly referring to his own son as "dildo." He steals every scene he is in, and he should be particularly noted for his ability to give such a convincing portrayal of an emotionless, macho father and still be convincing in the emotionally tense scene between him and Timothy where he describes Tim's late mother. That scene in particular is unexpectedly intense.
Outside Providence is a good comedy. It does not resort to tasteless sexual fourth-grade humor to pull it along (which is one of the biggest problems with teen comedies lately - American Pie, Scary Movie (there was no hope for that one from the beginning), There's Something About Mary, and Road Trip, which should have been a great movie). Instead, Outside Providence focuses on character development and a good story, and tops it all off with a healthy amount of comedy in the form of the cast, the characters, the script, dialogue, and pretty much everything else. Probably one of the best elements of this movie is that it is not a relentless comedy. It doesn't grab desperately for a laugh every second of the way, but instead it rounds out the content with drama, romance, skillful comedy, as well as good writing, directing, and acting. Outside Providence is badly underrated and should not be missed.
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