On paper, St Trinian's smacks of a film made by committee with its multiple writers and directors attached. The trailer hardly sells the film either and with so much emphasis placed on the younger members of the cast it’s a question of how could it possibly work? And yet despite its shaky foundations what emerges is a smart, enjoyable and pleasing on the eye romp. Sure, it has its problems, but by no means is it a disaster.
St Trinian’s School for girls (or more aptly young ladies) is in crisis. Following years of mismanagement from its headmistress Camilla Fritton (Everett) and a recent visit from government official Geoffrey Thwaites (Firth) it is up to Headgirl Kelly (Arterton) and newcomer Annabelle (Riley) to come up with a plan to raise the money required and save the school. Using a televised competition as cover for a daring heist, the girls unite the disparate groups around them from the ‘posh tottie’ to the ‘chavs’ and rope in dodgy chancer Flash Harry (Brand) to sell the goods to Annabelle's corrupt father… who happens to be Camilla’s brother.
Fair enough the story doesn’t set that much of a high standard. I’m assuming however the original films themselves had little more depth (they didn't — Ed), and as the film is set in the ‘real world’ as opposed to the realms of fantasy (the reference to the school being ‘Hogwarts for Pikeys’ is particularly sly) means that really isn’t too much of a concern. Neither is the waft of low grade celebrity to some of the casting... Brand does a decent job on the acting front, and Everett is clearly passionate and motivated in his roles (Playing both Frittons) but much credit must go to the youngsters on show, in particular Riley and Arterton who do wonders with their characters. Arterton in particular appears to be having much fun toying not only with the audience but also Brand’s onscreen persona of Flash Harry.
The focus on the two girls does mean little chance for anyone else to grab attention and this does show up in the final act when the competition is focus of the film and bizarrely Annabelle and Kelly are mere bit part players. Also the climax does drag a little, leaving one clock watching rather than watching the screen (that is until Kelly turns up on screen again obviously). It may not be the funniest film around, but if this is the first of the franchise then I might well be up for a double lesson.
• Official Site
• St Trinian's at IMDb