Boarding School Remake St. Trinian’s Is High School Musical with Posher Accents


One thing’s for sure: Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson’s remake of the famous 1950s black comedies—based on the immortal Ronald Searle cartoons about a girls’ boarding school whose inmates take over the asylum—will neither achieve the cult-classic status of Frank Launder’s joyously creaky original, The Belles of St. Trinian’s, nor secure the reputation of Britain’s freshly revived Ealing Studios. That said, even without the great Joyce Grenfell (England’s Ruth Draper) to prop it up, with the right attitude this cheerfully calculated effort to update the old girl for a tween market can be enjoyed in all its endearing awfulness, as a loony High School Musical with posher accents and a lot more going on upstairs. Having a ball in the Alastair Sim double act as headmistress Camilla (horsy, like that other Camilla) and her shady brother, Carnaby, is Rupert Everett, with an admirably tight-assed Colin Firth coming gloriously undone as a Ministry of Education honcho who wants to close the bankrupt academy down. The rest is moderately entertaining scenes of mildly goth uniformed girls behaving badly, with help from Russell Brand as a fake art dealer and Stephen Fry as the unusually partial host of a television quiz show featuring at least one under-prepared, yet creative school team. Don’t leave before the end credits, which are accompanied by a hilariously atonal duet from two of the stars.