The Exchange (USA, 2021)

A high school student gets a lot more than what he bargains for upon meeting an exchange student in this pretty funny film.

Tim Long has always been deemed a loser. A French film enthusiast, he impresses his teacher who is also the vice principal. However, at the same time, he is constantly ridiculed by his peers. Especially when it comes to two bullies. When he learns that a French exchange student named Stephane is coming to live with him for the rest of the year, he is excited. He thinks he will meet someone like him. When Stephane arrives, Tim is in for the shock of a lifetime.

Stephane is wild and not cultured. He is spontaneous and outgoing, something that the rest of the high school like. Impressing the soccer team due to his skills, Stephane even impresses the high school coach, Gary Rothbauer, who is also the local police officer. Stephane even decides to help Tim overcome some of his boundaries. But when a scandal hits and leads to Stephane’s ouster among the community, Tim decides to make sure that Stephane has his name cleared, even if it means him getting ousted as well.

From the co-writer of the phenomenon that is Borat and his work with Sacha Baron Cohen, this film seems to be a semi-autobiographical film from Tim Long, a successful writer on The Simpsons, The Simpsons Movie, and Late Night with David Letterman. Set in the 1980’s, the Canadian-born writer is the focus of the film as he goes from zero to hero. Yes, it’s somewhat of a classic underdog tale but add to the mix the one element that changes him, an eccentric foreign exchange student who in some aspect, changes his life forever.

Playing Tim is Ex Oxenbould, an Australian actor who is perhaps best known as the titular character in Disney’s live action adaption of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Here, Oxenbould gets to once again play a nerdy character, only an older nerdy character. It seems to fit him well, but what’s even better is that the actor perfectly can play zero to hero roles. Here, he is under the notion that the exchange student who comes from France will be sophisticated and cultured, like his heroes in films like Le Cercle Rouge.

Enter Avan Jogia, who is funny to watch as Stephane, the French exchange student whose popularity may lead to somewhat of a bigger dissention between himself as Tim. However, as the film progresses and despite some misgivings, Tim does seem to like Stephane. It’s a classic tale of a friendship that overcomes the obstacles that threaten it. Justin Hartley, sporting a dark-haired mullet and ‘stache, is funny as Gary Rothbauer, the high school coach and sheriff of Tim’s small hometown. From the moment you meet him, you will see the resemblance of both appearance and manners of a certain Pablo Schreiber character from a hit prison show.

The Exchange is a fun zero to hero film based on a true story, thanks to some great performances by Ed Oxenbould and Avan Jogia. Definitely worth checking out.

WFG RATING: A

Quiver Distribution presents a Who’s On First Films production in association with Elevation Pictures and Los Angeles Media Fund. Director: Dan Mazer. Producers: Christina Piovesan, Dan Hine, and Noah Segal. Writer: Tim Long. Cinematography: Jean-Philippe Bernier. Editing: Mark Davies.

Cast: Ed Oxenbould, Avan Jogia, Justin Hartley, Jennifer Irwin, Paul Braunstein, Jayli Wolf, David Huband, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll, Sofie Holland, Ivan Peric, Jack Quail.

The film is coming on Demand and on Digital on July 30 from Quiver Distribution.

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