For anyone who’s not familiar with the books (available on Amazon, of course), a quick(ish) summary: The Netflix film, starring Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Sofia Wylie and Sophia Anne Caruso, is about two polar-opposite best friends, Sophie (blonde) and Agatha (brunette), who are from a village called Gavaldon. For the last 200 years in their village, children have been disappearing every four years, when two children are magically kidnapped on the 11th day of the 11th month at midnight. One seemingly Good–and one seemingly Evil. Every four years, villagers try to stop the kidnappings, but fail miserably. This time, it’s Sophie and Agatha who are being kidnapped. And, yes, the bird–called a stymph–is the one that will fly them to the School for Good and Evil. Only the children who have been kidnapped have seen the schools. In the School for Good and Evil, students learn to become fairy tale heroes and villains (or as sidekicks, if they graduate with low grades)–even all the famous fairytale characters you can think of, such as Cinderella, Rapunzel, Captain Hook, and Ursula.
Sooooooo my dear student… are you Good? Or are you Evil?
More to the point for this article: Is the movie adaptation good? Or no?
Here’s what the reviews have to say:
“An adaptation of a YA favourite about two opposing fairytale schools is overlong, bland and utterly devoid of magic.” —The Guardian
“YA fairy tale The School For Good And Evil refuses to let its star-studded cast shine.” —AV Club
“Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington Get All Dressed Up for Nothing in Paul Feig’s YA Fantasy Misfire. . . Right down to the sprinkling of pop — Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, 2WEI’s thundering cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” — the movie panders to its target audience with puppyish eagerness. But it’s a charm-deprived, thrill-free endeavor that never really gets off the ground.” —Hollywood Reporter
“So what Netflix’s “The School for Good and Evil” attempts — to draw from and pervert cookie-cutter hero and villain stories in a novel way — is a task so monumental that it can’t measure up. The film, adapted from the young adult book series by Soman Chainani and directed by Paul Feig, is a mess of contradictions: a muddle of clichés and inconsistencies with just enough charm and cleverness to keep you watching.” —New York Times
“’Harry Potter’ meets ‘Descendants’ with a dash of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in ‘The School for Good and Evil.’ And yes, it is as overstuffed as that sounds. This massive, magical adventure is also way too long at 2 ½ hours, but rarely in that running time do we see any glimmers of the kind of singular filmmaking wizardry that usually makes Paul Feig’s movies so engaging.” —RogerEbert.com