I thought this was gonna be the Resurrection Of The Dead Poets, but thankfully I was wrong. Having well and truly embraced the concept of mid-life crisis, Kevin Kline seemed to go straight from My Life As A House to The Emperor’s Club. I’m waiting for the third installment in the unofficial trilogy – something about an ageing guy learning lessons late in life from those younger than him, and deciding that the world ain’t so much of a bad place after all.
It’d be cool if it had light sabers, too. In fact, maybe he could have played Darth Vader in Return Of The Jedi… he learnt his lesson, didn’t he?
But I digress (and anyway, it is a well known fact that any film, no matter how good, could be improved with the addition of light sabers. Just think about it… The Usual Suspects… WITH LIGHT SABERS! Slingblade… WITH LIGHT SABERS! How To Make And American Quilt… WITH LIGHT SABERS! The First Wive’s Club… ok, I’ll stop now.)
Where was I? Aha! The Emperor’s Club. (*Bashing head against wall in an effort to stop talking about Palpatine.*) My initial point was that I thought this would be something like Dead Poets Society or Mona Lisa Smile… thankfully it wasn’t. What makes TEC so good is that is has a great story. It isn’t at all complicated, and it comes surrounded by lots of mushy pathos and sentimentality, but at its core is a simple yet effective story (think of bubble wrap around an object that had to be posted… it’s useful… and you don’t mind it… but it’s what’s inside that’s important). In fact the core premise of this film could have been told in a short story format, and could easily be compounded into one short sentence (which I won’t do here).
Kevin Kline in always good, and this is no exception. Now, it’s not like he gets to present his full range in this film, but all the same he manages admirably. I for one would like to see him in comedic overload once again… you’re never too old.
There isn’t much else to this film. Oh, apart from the fact that the kids are all great, and for once actually look like they’re playing their age (I’m sick of fourteen year olds with five o’clock shadows). The Emperor’s Club keeps it simple (although not short) and that’s fine with me. If you’ve got a good story to tell, then you have a good story to tell… there isn’t much else to it.
Of course people have made great films out of lesser stories, but they had to work so much harder to do so.Rating: