Imagine if the Powerpuff Girls were the stars of “South Park” and you would probably have something similar to the live action short “P.E.” In this film, a trio of excessively surly and malevolent seventh grade girls decide the best way to get around an upcoming final for the physical education class is to dispose of their P.E. teacher through rude schemes.
The girls are not the type you want to mess with: one curses a blue streak, the other pounds her fist in walls when angry, and the third calculates ghastly scenarios for their teacher with a detached evil not seen since Michæl Corleone took over his family’s business.
But while it has a great premise, “P.E.” is a fairly clumsy comedy. The main problem here is the teacher is actually a very nice guy, so there is no fun whatsoever in seeing these evil girls try to dispatch him; had he been a rotten S.O.B., it would have been a hilarious battle of bile. And the jokes either don’t work (a gay porno video is substituted for a documentary on the Olympics, a sleazy Mexican assassin is paid $30 for his talents but instead runs off and gambles with his amigos) or the bad taste is not floated with anything resembling humor (a timid boy is coerced into encouraging the teacher into a display of pedophilia…who thought THAT was funny?). And the film’s blackout gag is so painfully obvious in its set-up that you can see it coming long before its arrival.
To its credit, however, “P.E.” is handsomely produced in 35mm CinemaScope and Dolby Surround…not bad for an 11 minute production. And the young actresses (Heather Rivers, Jordan Barron, Jessica Wiseman) are so perfectly cast that it should be hoped they can reunite again for a new adventure where they can hunt down and beat up the Olsen Twins. Now that would a film worthy of being filmed in CinemaScope and Dolby Surround…or even 3-D Imax. Any takers?