The latest collaboration between comics writer-artist Dan Clowes and director Terry Zwigoff is a coming-of-age tale dipped in smut and funk. And it works for a good while -- when it's a dingy, messy, sophomoric lark without pretensions of being anything more than Animal House for the avant-comics set. Jerome (Max Minghella) is a goofy twerp who figures, like all high-school outsiders more likely to get punched than laid, that college will change his entire life. He's waiting for the moment when he gets into Strathmore Institute, which has sent him a pamphlet full of pretty-girl promises. But just as the movie settles into a nice, nasty-with-a-grin rhythm, it takes a dreadfully wrong turn toward nothing less than a murder mystery involving a campus serial killer. Clowes is trying to say something about the value of art, about how only the stupendously undeserving and egregiously hackneyed garner the adoration and fortunes that belong to The Truly Great. But as soon as Art School Confidential tries to be about something, the grin becomes a grimace.
Director: Terry Zwigoff
Writer: Daniel Clowes
Producer: John Malkovich, Russell Smith, Lianne Halfon and Chase Bailey
Cast: John Malkovich, Anjelica Huston, Max Minghella, Sophia Myles, Jim Broadbent, Joel David Moore, Ethan Suplee, Jesse Flanagan, Ezra Buzzington and Matt Keeslar