I had high hopes for ‘Speech And Debate.’ It was written by Stephen Karam (he also wrote ‘The Humans’) and has great stars in it: Sarah Steele, who I love from The Good Wife (and ‘The Good Fight’) and Austin McKenzie (I remember him from the 2015 Michael Arden directed production of ‘Spring Awakwening’ and also from the miniseries ‘When We Rise’) and it’s a musical. I mean, there’s even a guest spot by Lin Manuel Miranda, so there’s a lot of musical theater pedigree here, While I was watching the movie, I thought it reminded me a little bit of ‘Glee’ wherein misfits band together for something, in this case the school’s ‘Speech & Debate team, instead of the Glee Club. And it has theater music in it, although I music doesn’t move the story forward, so I guess it is not technically a musical.
Too bad it’s a bloody bore. The situations are preposterously unbelievable, and even though the three main leads – Liam James plays Solomon, the third kid – do their best and are charming and adorable, the plot goes nowhere. It was fun when the action is at home and in their school, but the road trip sub storyline fell flat to me, and they have a musical number in the end that’s supposed to wrap up the whole thing. That was almost embarrassing – awkward and eyeroll inducing that I was thinking, no one among these professionals spoke up and suggested to them how bad it was? The movie left such a bad taste in my mouth I couldn’t even enjoy Kristin Chenoweth singing over the end credits. And I am wasn’t even going to mention how Steele plays a character who is supposed to be Filipino, and she is as white as Snow White gets. (Mckenzie’s character does tell her ‘You don’t look Filipino,’ as if that was a consolation) This film is a total waste of time,