Mystical beasts. Heroes. Villains. Good vs. evil reimagined? These are just some highlights of this fantasy-driven film Netflix released today.
I was recently invited to an advanced screening and cast Q&A for The School For Good and Evil. Going in with a blank slate and no preconceived notions, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the story has predominantly female leads, with two powerhouse actresses in particular: Kerry Washington and Charlize Theron, who play the school’s deans. Professor Dovey (Washington) is optimistic and lively, while her counterpart Lady Lesso (Theron), is sour and unscrupulous; both oversee the heroes and villains in the making, ready to conquer the world.
Bringing this ensemble of magnetic actresses together is acclaimed director Paul Feig, who relishes in the dynamics of female narratives, heavily present in his films like the all-star female reboot of Ghostbusters and the comedy cult-classic: Bridesmaids. Besides directing the film, Paul Feig co-wrote the screenplay with David Magee and Soman Chainani (author of The School For Good and Evil franchise).
The School for Good and Evil follows two best friends from the fictional village of Galvadon, Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie), who share a bond over being outcasts and form a pact when tested and chastised by fellow villagers and decide to have each other’s backs. Sophie is a seamstress disillusioned with her surroundings and already resembles a princess, albeit a shabby one. She dreams of leaving her village and attending the school of Good, while Agatha, appearing to possess witch-like tendencies, is determined to convince her friend to remain in their town and stick it out.
On a fateful night under the blood-red moon, the friends are swept away by mystical creatures that carry them to opposing sides of the school to room with the offspring of Cinderella, Captain Hook, King Arthur, and the Wicked Witch, to name a few — and train to be “pure” or “wicked.” The epic battle between the schools not only tests the girls’ friendship but seemingly reveals their true nature.
Adapted from author Soman Chainani’s Young Adult six-part book series (first published in 2013), he serves as executive producer on the film. According to the author:
“I was inspired to write a fantasy series that would turn fairy tale tropes on their head.”
Can the friendship between these two girls survive? Are the girls in their designated schools?
How can the secrets from their past turn the tide in the fairy-tale world they now inhabit? Although there are princes and nemesis to contend with — the focus is more on female kinship than the quintessential girl-meets-boy, boy-saves-girl narratives we’ve come to expect — I’m here for it. Rounding out the cast is Laurence Fishburne, authoritative and quirky, as a schoolmaster who declares that the only way for Sophie and Agatha to live out their destinies is with a “true kiss.” And the stoic and regal Michelle Yeoh, as Professor Anemone, is in charge of harnessing princess etiquette from students of the “Good” school.
Premiering on Netflix today, The School for Good and Evil is a fun ride into a new world of fairy tale storytelling filled with stunning sorcery, magic, and special effects. The Paul Feig flick will not disappoint fans of the fantasy genre — and will definitely attract some new ones. Click here to learn more!