The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
I am so very tired of this movie. I see it at least once a month. The title changes, the actors change, and the superficial details of the story change, but it is always about exactly the same thing: heavily armed men shooting at one another. Even the order of their deaths is preordained: First the extras die, then the bit players, then the featured actors, until finally only the hero and the villain are left.
The name of the movie this time is “The Substitute.” It stars Tom Berenger as Shale, a mercenary soldier who has just returned after a raid on a Cuban drug depot. He goes to visit Jane (Diane Venora), a high school teacher he met on vacation in Latin America. She teaches in a Miami high school that is dominated by thugs. Her boss, Principal Rolle (Ernie Hudson), doesn't seem willing to do anything about them. These are dumb thugs. They call attention to themselves when there is no need to. They keep a high profile when they should be trying to blend into the woodwork. Why? Because they are all working for Principal Rolle's multimillion-dollar drug importing business. He uses school buses to move the drugs, stores a fortune in cocaine in the school's boiler room, and sells to students. It's a very efficient business model.
One of the thugs beats up Jane on the beach, because she is dissing his buddies in school. Her leg is broken. Shale, who knows all about falsifying records, poses as a substitute teacher, takes over her class, and is soon inthe middle of a violent war over drugs.
Of course there are a few human moments, spaced out sparingly, to lend the formula interest. I found a real warmth in the scenes between Venora and Berenger, a feeling genuine enough that it could have graced a better movie.
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