Based on Louis Sachar’s book, this movie is about a new student who attends Wayside School, where everything is wacky.Based on the hilarious Wayside novels for children by Louis Sachar, Wayside: The Movie is an animated distillation of the first wacky book in the series, with a few extra ideas thrown in. Set at the architecturally unsound Wayside school–which is 30 stories tall with a zig-zag structure and only one classroom per floor–the story begins with the arrival of a new boy, Todd, who seems only to get in trouble when trying to understand the oddball culture of the place. Sent to a science class at the very top of the building, Todd encounters a teacher who throws his desk out the window and then punishes him for wondering why. The principal seems to be in love with his public-address system (which has the unfortunate effect of making the walls close in whenever he uses it), the friendly janitor needs a blueprint of the school to find crucial shut-off mechanisms, and there’s an extremely low-ceilinged classroom where kids hurt their arms whenever raising their hands. In the midst of this madness, Todd makes some friends and draws the affectionate attention of a girl, but ultimately faces a test of his bravery and ingenuity when he has to save his science class from getting squashed. Really, one has to be there to understand. This is a delightful, short feature (49 minutes) that will appeal both to kids who have read the books and to those who haven’t. –Tom Keogh
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