American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
I would give a great deal to be able to see "The Skulls" on opening night in New Haven, Conn., in a movie theater full of Yale students, with gales of laughter rolling at the screen. It isn't a comedy, but that won't stop anyone. "The Skulls" is one of the great howlers, a film that bears comparison, yes, with "The Greek Tycoon" or even "The Scarlet Letter." It's so ludicrous in so many different ways it achieves a kind of forlorn grandeur. It's in a category by itself.
The movie claims to rip the lid off a secret campus society named the Skulls, which is obviously inspired by the Yale society known as Skull and Bones. The real Skull and Bones has existed for two centuries, and has counted presidents, tycoons and CIA founders among its alumni. Membership was an honor--until now. After seeing this movie, members are likely to sneak out of the theater through the lavatory windows.
The story: Luke McNamara (Joshua Jackson) attends a university that is never mentioned by name (clues: it is in New Haven and has a lot of big "Ys" painted on its walls). He is a townie, rides a bike, lost his father when he was one, is poor, works in the cafeteria. Yet he's tapped for membership in the Skulls because he is a star on the varsity rowing crew.
Luke's best friends are a black student journalist named Will Beckford (Hill Harper) and a rich girl named Chloe (Leslie Bibb). Luke secretly loves Chloe but keeps it a secret, because "Chloe's parents own a private jet, and I've never even been in a jet." Another of Luke's friends is Caleb Mandrake (Paul Walker), whose father, Litten (Craig T. Nelson), is a Supreme Court candidate. With soap opera names like Caleb and Litten Mandrake (and Sen. Ames Levritt), the film contains an enormous mystery, which is, why doesn't Chloe have a last name? I suggest Worsthorne-Waugh.