(1hr 40mins), Starring: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Gemma Arterton, Talulah Riley. Directors: Oliver Parker, Barnaby Thompson.
Girls just want to have fun in Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson’s revival of the naughty hockey stick-wielding minxes, first immortalised in the cartoons of Ronald Searle.
During the 50s and 60s, director Frank Launder brought the mischievous heroines to a wider audience with his four films, featuring Alastair Sim as headmistress Miss Fritton.
Transplanted to the present day, these rebellious and unruly schoolgirls – who make 100% proof vodka in the biology lab and run possibly the world’s tamest phone sex line from their dormitory – don’t seem fearsome at all.
Indeed, keeping in mind the nightmarish headlines about drugs, violence and bullying in our classrooms, the pranks of these girl cliques are now rather tame. Rupert Everett, who also produces the film, totters in Sim’s footsteps by donning drag as the toothy headmistress, who inspires her girls to follow her doctrine of self-empowerment.
Unfortunately, Miss Fritton’s radical approach to teaching has done little to secure the school’s finances and the banks are threatening to close the establishment. To add to her woes, old flame Geoffrey Thwaites (Colin Firth), now the Education Minister, is trying to dampen the anarchic spirit of her young charges. Determined to save St Trinian’s, head girl Kelly (Gemma Arterton) and newcomer Annabelle (Talulah Riley) join forces to steal Vermeer’s masterpiece Girl With A Pearl Earring from the National Gallery.
To accomplish their daring plan, Kelly and Annabelle unite the various factions including the Chavs, the Emos, the Geeks, the Trustafarians and the Posh Totties.
Abetted by shady dealer Flash Harry (Russell Brand), the girls plot to steal the picture during the live televised final of quiz show School Challenge hosted by Stephen Fry, from the gallery’s Grand Hall.
St Trinian’s is frothy and undemanding fun, interspersed with snappily edited montages set to songs by Shampoo, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Girls Aloud.
However, with so many characters crammed into 100 frenetic minutes, we forge few emotional bonds with the students.
Everett and Firth have fun with their roles, verbally referencing their 1984 film Another Country plus a visual gag to please fans of Pride And Prejudice. Jodie Whittaker steals the film though, as sassy receptionist Beverly.