Someone needs to sit down co-writers Joseph Kahn and Mike Palermo and explain to them that cramming 71 stories into a 90-minute film doesn't automatically make your movie clever and high-energy. There's a good movie (or four) lost somewhere inside the Hypercolor prison that is Detention, but what ends up on screen reeks of missed opportunities.
There are so many fun details woven into the plot (note: the term "plot" is used very, very loosely) that it made the final product painful to dislike. It's set in high school, stars a bunch of '90s-worshipping teens, and there is a murderer on the loose. Or at least, for a few minutes there is (the culprit thankfully saves us from having to listen to the first abrasive teen we meet who yells at her mom for feeding her carbs and ridicules ugly boys' BBMs). Then the story becomes about Riley (Shanley Caswell), who's such a loser that she gets mugged by a hipster on the way to school. Her sharp tongue does a decent job of hiding her affection for her bff Clapton (Josh Hutcherson), but of course he is distracted by the blondness of head cheerleader Ione (Spencer Locke). Ione's jilted ex-boyfriend (Parker Bagley) isn't a fan of Clapton's, but is dealing with problems of his own--namely the fly DNA in his hand which he hid for a long time by wearing a TV on his fist, but has trouble covering up when he's barfing acid at parties.
Pause as Grae mainlines Taurine into her veins in an attempt to refuel while delving into the depths of this movie's madness.
There's also vintage overalls, nipple slips, body-switching, UFO sightings, Dane Cook with a scar on his temple, and witty repartee while wearing neon RayBans. And a grizzly bear time traveling machine. I know I've forgotten something in there, because they make it impossible to remember anything.
On paper, the movie shows innovation, creativity, and adventurous filmmaking. The only thing you can count on from the movie is its randomness, along with a mean sense of humor. But it doesn't stick to any one subject long enough to form a solid base that anchors the completely unreal world. Is this Donnie Darko or Heathers? Or Freaky Friday? I had no idea what the rules of the universe were, because sometimes kids were distressed over dead bodies, other times they didn't even flinch as they pushed one aside, cops took some reports seriously and ridiculed others, and all of a sudden people start traveling through time but don't operate by Back to the Future Rules. The movie raises more questions than it answers, only "explains" things with quickly cut, snide commentary. Making sense out of this movie is like herding cats. I caught the funny stuff, like a 2011 teen stuck in 1992 desperately trying to get a cell signal, but like everything else, it was just a fleeting moment that wasn't powerful enough to save the movie.
If they had picked just a couple of things to focus on in a coherent narrative, pared down all the non-sequiturs and kept all of the self awareness and fast edits, this would have been a really fantastic film. The end result was AANS (all attitude, no substance).