Netflix’s The School For Good and Evil is based on the bestselling series of novels by author Soman Chainani and illustrator Iacopo Bruno. It tells the story of two young girls – Sophia and Agatha – who soon find their less-than-stellar lives changed forever once they’re transported to the School of Good and Evil. It’s a simple plot, one that isn’t exactly brand new, and yet, it was given the movie treatment by Netflix with some huge stars attached. It should’ve been incredibly exciting, right? Sadly, that wasn’t necessarily the case.
The School For Good and Evil stars Sophia Anne Caruso as Sophie and Sofia Wylie as Agatha/Auggie. The young girls are the best of friends, having formed a bond after the death of Sophie’s mother when they were both younger. They’re both outcasts in their small town of Gavaldon; Sophie is teased because of her love of fairy tales while Auggie is deemed a witch by the folks in her town. After one bad day too many, Sophie seeks to escape to The School of Good and Evil, a school she’s heard about where she believes she’ll have a chance at the life she’s longed for. But Auggie isn’t willing to let her leave, not wanting to be left behind in Gavaldon where she’ll be tormented daily with no one to confide in without Sophie. This leads to both girls being pulled to the School of Good and Evil, but with surprising results.
The movie isn’t entirely bad. In fact, most of the film is rather delightful, but it is quite messy. From so-so CGI work to off-putting music choices, The School For Good and Evil often feels rushed. With a cast that includes the likes of Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington and Laurence Fishburne, it’s hard not to enjoy the absurdity of it all. Theron and Washington are a delight and deserve far more screentime than they are allotted. Theron chews the scenery as the headmistress of the School of Evil, while Washington charms as the headmistress of the School of Good. And in the very limited time she’s on screen, Michelle Yeoh as Professor Anemone is fantastic. Perhaps the best surprise, though, is how great Fishburne is as the School Master. He’s charming, mysterious and can sometimes be conniving. With a stellar adult cast, it’s a shame that the younger cast is so inconsistent. Wylie’s Agatha carries the movie, and Caruso’s performance often wavers. The emotional moments the duo share, though, are great and help to sell the story of friendship at the film’s core.
While The School For Good and Evil often feels like a poor Disney Channel Original Movie, it does pack a hell of an emotional punch. The movie is ultimately about the complexities of humanity – people are not merely good or bad, and the movie explores this with ease. All in all, The School For Good & Evil can often be uneven, but it’s still an enjoyable watch in the end. For young tweens struggling to understand themselves, The School For Good & Evil offers a positive message of friendship and learning to love ourselves. So, despite the bad, there’s plenty of good in The School For Good and Evil… but the good doesn’t come without the bad.