HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Old Guard, The
Gumnaam
Disappearance at Clifton Hill
Sullivans, The
Piranhas
Love in the Afternoon
Black Water: Abyss
Wild Blue Yonder, The
All Hail the Popcorn King
Muriel, or the Time of Return
Selma
Great Locomotive Chase, The
American Anthem
Lion and the Horse, The
Druids
War of the Wizards
Onward
Doctor Faustus
Spite Marriage
Mask, The
Letter to Jane
Quick Millions
Dream Demon
Max Havelaar
Radioactive
Glastonbury Fayre
All Dogs Go to Heaven
Shoot Out
Da 5 Bloods
Sonatine
Kung Fu Monster
Secret Agent Super Dragon
Saint Frances
Boiling Point
Golden Stallion, The
Dragon Force
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
Luck of Ginger Coffey, The
Junkers Come Here
Ladius
   
 
Newest Articles
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
   
 
  Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story, The Methinks Screech doth protest too much
Year: 2014
Director: Jason Lepeyre
Stars: Sam Kindseth, Dylan Everett, Alyssa Lynch, Tiera Skovbye, Taylor Russell, Julian Works, Andrew Moxham, Kendall Cross, Ken Tremblett, Manny Jacinto, Sean Campbell, Adam Greydon Reid, Alannah Berry, Kevin O'Grady, François Yip
Genre: TV Movie, BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: For the benefit of those that did not grow up in the Nineties, Saved By the Bell was a high school sitcom centred around the misadventures of smart-alecky teen Zach Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and his annoyingly wacky best friend Screech (Dustin Diamond). While hardly great art the show, which ran from 1989 to 1993 plus two spin-offs no-one likes to talk about, endeared itself to a generation, made teen heartthrobs out of Gosselaar and co-star Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and sparked the formula for high school sitcoms that spread like a virus across American children's television up to the present day.

Produced by Lifetime, the network behind such showbiz biopics as The Last of Robin Hood (2014) and the infamous Liz & Dick (2012), The Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story belongs to the recent wave of Canadian-made television movies detailing dramas behind the scenes of iconic TV shows. Previous examples like Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Charlie's Angels' (2004) and Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Mork & Mindy' (2005) had the small benefit of interesting angles on show-business. The former detailed the complex contractual negotiations between producers and breakout star Farrah Fawcett while the latter exposed the capricious nature of network TV schedulers. By comparison, The Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story seems geared solely to nostalgists and fans still hungry for backstage gossip more than twenty years after the fact. As such there is no real dramatic substance nor enlightening insights to entice non-fans. Nor indeed does the film take the opportunity to explain the enduring appeal behind such a goofy, innocuous teen show.

In a nutshell we learn how what began as a vehicle for former Disney star Hayley Mills called 'Good Morning, Miss Bliss' morphed into television's first live-action kid-driven sitcom re-titled 'Saved By the Bell.' Rescued from cancellation numerous times, the show survives to become a breakout hit branding young actors Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Dylan Everett), Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (Alyssa Lynch), Elizabeth Berkley (Tiera Skovbye), Lark Voorhies (Taylor Russell), Mario Lopez (Julian Works) and, of course, Dustin Diamond (Sam Kindseth) as teen idols. With success comes pressure. As Saved By the Bell becomes an important commodity, studio chiefs go all out to protect their 'brand' by pressuring the kids to stay 'clean' and 'wholesome.' This takes a toll on Mark-Paul's secret romance with Lark Voorhies whose strict beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness eventually drive him to an ambiguous 'friendship' with Tiffani-Amber. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Berkley struggles to be taken seriously as an actress. Inspired by an encounter with some starstruck girls, she pressures producers to tackle more challenging drama leading to the show's infamous 'caffeine pill addiction' storyline. On the other end of the spectrum, Mario Lopez takes to seducing teenage girls on the set prompting Dustin to fantasize about doing the same. Increasingly alienated from his close-knit co-stars he goes on drinking binges, punches hecklers out cold on the street until caught on camera smoking a joint and blackmailed by a so-called friend.

As drama it is all very kitsch but then so was Saved By the Bell. It is a gossip-driven story but, as gossip goes, pretty bland and predictable. Based on the unreliable memoirs of Dustin Diamond, who has an executive producer credit, the film skews to his point-of-view to a fault. Diamond, who despite many real life transgressions inexplicably remains for some a tragicomic pop culture icon, seems out to settle a few scores. Early on the film lifts the sitcom's cutesy device of Mark-Paul as Zach Morris being able to freeze time. Only in this instance Diamond steps in to announce this time it is his story. Thereafter the film emphasizes his sense of alienation from the rest of the cast in a presumed effort to contextualize his infamous off-screen exploits. Still it says something about Diamond as a person that in spite of a concerted effort to make him as sympathetic as possible he still comes across like a whiny, insensitive, self-centred borderline sociopath. The film's central message would be appear to be life is terribly hard for teen stars. Though not especially compelling the film draws some sympathy for the Saved By the Bell cast as their popularity with teenagers is counterbalanced by no small amount of abuse, ridicule, typecasting and immense pressure. Of the group Elizabeth Berkley arguably comes off best, portrayed as so sincere in her dedication to dance and acting one can't help feel sorry for what happened with Showgirls (1995). Naturally the contrived wrap-up name-checks that fiasco but glosses over the show's failed final season, 'The College Years.' Even for die-hard fans of Saved By the Bell the TV biopic is only of minor interest and less fun than the recent reunion skit on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1526 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
  Hannah Prosser
   

 

Last Updated: