Josh Jackson, better known as “that dude from Dawson’s Creek” to the folks sitting near me, is the main man in this flick and, truth is, he’s not unappealing.
In one genuinely cool sequence, Josh and the rest of the Yale crew team take to the water, lose an oar, and still kick ass all over the other Ivies, including my beloved Cornell (frickin’ Yalies!).
But it’s straight downhill from there.
“The Skulls” are a secret society – although it’s a secret everyone on the Yale campus seems to know, in part because of that big skull logo hanging over the clubhouse – proof of either a secret society or a Long John Silver franchise.
Avast, Matey! Hoist yer scurvy ass to the dining hall – tonight we plunder the fried mozzarella entree! Aaarrr!
You’d think any secret society providing fancy new cars for its new members could afford adequate lighting and a chair or two. Nope. Just a dim, cavernous room with “WAR” engraved on one wall and “Limp Bizkit Rules!” on the other.
This secret society molds the leaders of the future, including at least three U.S. Presidents, most of the world’s “Biffs” and “Trips,” and – I’m guessing – no one who has ever hosted an Oscar pre-show.
One of the club’s mucky-mucks is a U.S. Senator who, it seems, has nothing better to do than cruise the campus in his Rolls, popping up every ten minutes like an alarm clock snooze and spouting ominous aphorisms. Hey Senator Confucius, are there no laws to be made, no lobbyists to be laid, no graft to be paid, no gun laws to be waylaid?
Leslie Bibb, best known for being unknown, is the object of Josh’s unfathomable affection. She’s attending Yale on a Ford Modeling Scholarship and planning to take the LSAT – until someone informs her it’s not the “Elle-SAT,” for goodness sake.
Leslie throws a mean dart, has a private jet in the family, and has no discernable character depth whatsoever. Plus, she builds a peculiar mechanical monstrosity whose job is to squirt paint randomly at a canvas because she’s too busy sending out headshots to do it herself.
“We live by the rules, we die by the rules,” Senator Lao Tsu says to Leslie. “I don’t know what you mean,” she replies. You don’t know what he means?! Is that a glimmer in your eye, Les, or just the reflection from the back of your head?
As part of his initiation into “The Skulls,” Josh wakes up in a casket on a soundstage where members in monk robes reenact the most boring parts of Eyes Wide Shut. “A snake without scales shows its veins,” moans a hooded figure in a letterman sweater, “and image is nothing, thirst is everything.”
This is a club where members gather to sip cocktails, smoke cigars, meet suspiciously amiable babes, and sell Thin Mints outside the student union.
It’s a club with its own psychiatric hospital, meaning there’s always room for the Arquette family on the membership rolls. Besides, costar Craig T. Nelson hasn’t been quite right since he moved into that house over an ancient Indian burial ground.
In a particularly peculiar form of hazing, Josh and his buddy are invited into “liar’s hell.” They’re locked inside a cage for what’s called the “revealing process,” where we learn this is the only club on campus where you’ll find a dungeon before you find a keg.
Imagine! The club tries to cover up a murder, and only Josh can save the day. But first, he stops by The Skull’s annual fund-raising car wash and bake sale for a slice of Craig T. Nelson’s blue-ribbon-winning Dutch Apple pie.
The Skulls has the privilege of being the first teen movie featuring a duel! Does dueling fulfill the phys ed requirement at Yale? Personally, I’d prefer the favorite intramural sport of Fiona Apple fans: wrist-slitting.
Maybe the beer buzz went to their heads, because these skulls are numb.