While it’s almost enough that Alex Goyette’s Expelled redeems its one-word title from memories of the polemical documentary where Ben Stein blames the Holocaust on the theory of evolution, this teen comedy manages to be worthwhile on its own merits.
Felix (Cameron Dallas) is an inveterate prankster whose lucky streak finally runs out. Finding himself expelled from high school and with a less-than-exemplary report card, Felix must hide both of these things from his parents (Kristina Hayes and Tom McLaren) while trying to get re-enrolled, despite the efforts of the evil principal (Emilio Palame).
Expelled wears its Ferris Bueller’s Day Off influences on its sleeve — Felix even narrates the film into the camera — but it also tones down the fantasy wish-fulfillment elements, and gives its hero an actual arc and a degree of introspection that keeps him from being an insufferable nozzle. Indeed, this kind of movie lives or dies by how tolerable the lead is, and newcomer Dallas is naturally charismatic onscreen, possibly owing to the fact that he’s made hundreds of videos on Vine.
Granted, most Vine users probably shouldn’t headline a movie, but it seems to have worked for Dallas, as does Goyette’s experience directing the AwesomenessTV sketch comedy series. Expelled isn’t going to change the world, but it’s a fun and promising debut film.