The can't-go-back-to-school-again comedy "Stay Cool" attempts to pay homage to the '80s oeuvre of filmmaker John Hughes, but its singular lack of emotional logic, charm and humor bring to mind a couple of hours in detention instead.
Called back to speak to his high school's graduating class, hotshot thirtysomething author Henry (Mark Polish, who also scripted) begins reliving all the old humiliations, which amount to mostly embarrassing movie clichés: the unreachable hottie from the past (Winona Ryder, underused) unhappily wed to the bully (Marc Blucas), a kimono-wearing gay friend (Sean Astin), his clueless parents (Dee Wallace, Michael Gross), a bumbling principal (Chevy Chase) and the sexy young thing (Hilary Duff) with a crush.
If the psychosis of a grown man wanting to right high school wrongs wasn't unattractive enough, Polish's arrogant, dour turn amid so much peppy, uninspired pop culture rehashing would be enough to wonder if something cynically postmodern was afoot. Also, Polish's brother and filmmaking partner Michael took his name off as director — it's credited to a "Ted Smith" — which suggests a what-might-have-been scenario for the indie siblings ("Twin Falls Idaho").
As it is, "Stay Cool," with its cartoonish figures, bad jokes and hackneyed situations, fails to make the grade.
"Stay Cool." MPAA rating: PG-13 for sexual content, language including some drug references, and for some underage drinking. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. At AMC Loews Broadway 4, Santa Monica.