School for Scoundrels

Rated 2.0

A hapless nerd (Jon Heder) takes a class in assertiveness, hoping to work up the nerve to date his neighbor (Jacinda Barrett), but just as he’s gaining confidence, his teacher (Billy Bob Thornton) comes on to the young woman himself. Based (uncredited) on the 1960 British comedy classic, the script by Scot Armstrong and director Todd Phillips sets up a passable premise but never even gets to first base; they’re too busy hammering us with oafish, bird-brained comic set-pieces to bother with making sense or following through on anything. The whole thing winds up in a scene set in an airport and on a plane that’s just plain ridiculous. (Have Armstrong and Phillips been in an airport in the last five years?) Heder’s sweetly sympathetic performance is the best reason to see it, but he can’t work miracles.