Story: Paula (Jill Schoelen) is having a banner year in high school, with great grades, being elected class president, and dating star athlete Dwight (Brad Pitt), but school is about to change, thanks to the return of an old classmate. Brian (Donovan Leitch) has just been released from a mental asylum, where he went through exhaustive treatment after his father’s suspicious death. No sooner has Brian hit the halls again than he tries to create some sparks with Paula, who is sympathetic to him, given all he has gone through in recent years. But Dwight thinks Brian is still insane and dangerous, a theory that seems valid when strange things begin to happen at the high school and beyond. Has Brian been released too soon or is there a twisted plot going on to frame him?
Entertainment Value: Cutting Class is a ridiculous, cheese soaked 80s slasher movie that immense fun to watch and holds up well to repeat viewings. The narrative is basic and there isn’t much suspense, but it sets up a serious of outlandish scenarios and allows for a flood of awkward, hilarious dialogue, so it does what it needs to do here. So we get the usual slasher story beats, but with an acidic edge in most scenes and an outright absurd texture at times that really entertains. The attempts at direct humor are just so cringe, such as the entire Martin Mull subplot, which is just so over the top and unfolds next to some scenes meant to be serious. So yes, wild tonal shifts happen and to me, that’s a plus, since the main draw here is the wackiness. As you’d expect from a slasher movie, there are some decent kills and some blood flows, as well as some light sleaze, so Cutting Class might be awkward, but it manages to cover its basic bases at least. The movie is never scary in the least, but it is a lot of fun and if you appreciate outlandish 80s cinema, give Cutting Class a spin.
I have to think some of those who seek out this movie will do so because of Brad Pitt, who had his first lead role in Cutting Class. I have no idea how they’d receive his performance, but I found it to be quite humorous and fun to watch. His line deliveries are varied, but often awkward and forced, which again, I think is a positive in this case. He has some lines intended to be quite serious, but come off as ridiculous and those moments are just magic. Pitt has a great banter with costar Donovan Leitch, who he seems to enjoy going back and forth with. The two are the main suspects in the movie, so they have a good deal of time together and their interactions add a lot to the film. But the real memorable player is Martin Mull, who has such a bizarre role here and he adds such a slapstick sense of humor, which makes the rest of the movie even more offbeat. Mull doesn’t have a lot of lines or much to do narrative wise, but he is a memorable ingredient in Cutting Class. The cast also includes Jill Schoelen, Roddy McDowall, Brenda James, and Robert Glaudini.