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Film / Class Act

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Class Act is a 1992 comedy film starring hip-hop duo Kid 'N Play. The film is an urban retelling of the fairy tale The Prince and the Pauper. The main characters are Duncan Pinderhughes, a genius high school student, and Michael "Blade" Brown, a juvenile delinquent.

Duncan is getting ready for graduation, but finds out during an interview that despite his perfect SAT score and GPA, Harvard University will not admit him unless he can pass phys. ed. Ex-convict Blade is released from jail, and told by his parole officer that the condition of his release is staying out of trouble and a satisfactory graduation from high school. Having moved to a new neighborhood, Duncan now has to go to Higgins High School to complete his graduation requirements. As both boys encounter one another in the hallway, causing Blade to forcefully push Duncan aside, a mishap results in their pictures being swapped on their school records, causing everyone to think that each is the other one. Thus Blade is placed in Gifted classes, while Duncan is placed in minimal classes with substandard conditions and miscreants for classmates.

At first both boys are perplexed about their situation, until they learn what has happened. Duncan is eager to tell the Principal what has happened while Blade, on the other hand, decides to use this situation to his advantage, threatening Duncan to pass all his classes, while also trying to give the clumsy genius a new persona to keep his good name and rep intact. Despite the changes in their lives, both boys gradually discover their own untapped skills while continuing the charade.


  • Accidental Athlete: When Duncan is sent to a PE class for the first time in his life, he participates in Football. In doing this he discovers he has a uncanny ability to kick field goals by calculating the trajectory.
  • Accidental Pervert:
    • Duncan (multiple times). The first time was when Blade sends him crashing through the secretary, Ms. Jackson's, office resulting in him face-planting onto her chest.
    • The second time was Duncan trying to crawl away from danger and ends up face-planting into Damita's chest. Despite this little mishap, Damita asked for Blade's (i.e. Duncan's) phone number, as he leaves his words are jumbled: "See you later da'titty- I mean Damita."
    • When crawling through the vents at the museum, he face-plants into Damita's rump.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Mr. Mink.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Damita wasn't attracted to Blade (i.e. Duncan) until she found out about his reputation.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Blade has no problem expressing his love of women and sex.
  • Beauty Is Bad: Michael "Blade" Brown.
  • Black and Nerdy: Duncan of course.
  • Brainy Brunette: Ellen, who was played by Karyn Parsons known for her role as Hilary Banks who is, amusingly, a character that is the complete opposite of Ellen.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Despite a disinterest in school and education as a whole, Blade shows himself to be a lot smarter and more capable when he applies himself.
  • The Bully: Wedge the Jerk Jock, though he increasingly turns into the Butt-Monkey as the film progresses.
  • Brutal Honesty:
    • Part of Blade's attitude, in addition to his arrogance and lack of respect for authority, is his curt honesty.
    • Duncan as well, though he's more of an Innocently Insensitive due to his sheltered upbringing: "I think Blade Brown is the biggest asshole on the planet!"
  • Chekhov's Gun: Ellen and "Duncan"'s discussion of Shakespeare, as seen in Much Ado About Nothing, gives Blade an answer in the epilogue quiz bowl.
  • Cool Teacher: Mrs. Ipswitch, who was impressed by Duncan's (i.e. Blade's) report on human sexuality as a function of breeding environment.
  • Credits Gag: Before the credits roll, Blade wanted to tell his side of the story, which would have included sex, car chases, and sex, hip hop and more sex, did I mention sex?
  • Deliberately Bad Example: Duncan telling the jail guard about his and Blade's childhood.
    • Toddler Duncan properly learned to use his potty. Toddler Blade peed outside on the street.
    • Young Duncan read books on Advanced Physics. Young Blade looked at pinup magazines (described by Duncan as a becoming a Smut King).
    • Duncan "I was the perfect child who learned to share, while Blade was becoming a harden criminal."
    • Tween Duncan exploring the universe with a telescope. Tween Blade peeping through a keyhole as a girl undresses.
    • Duncan received a trophy for academic achievements. Blade received a jail sentence.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Blade highly prefers his nickname over his given name, Michael.
  • Dope Slap: Used frequently throughout the film, usually by Blade against Duncan and by Mink against Wedge.
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Crack is Whack!"
  • '80s Hair: As a man grabs Damita for a dance, she lashes out at him by insulting his Jheri curl hairstyle.
  • Ephebophile: Ms. Jackson the secretary and Ms. Joanne Simpson the Advanced Latin teacher.
    • As Ms. Jackson was sorting student records, and rubbing the photos on her breasts, she proclaims "Woo! Jailbait!"
    • When Ms. Simpson wants to know more about Duncan (i.e. Blade) she seductively places a single leg on his desk and bites on a piece of candy, she tells him that Latin is the Father of all Romance languages.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Blade genuinely loves his mother, even though she is (understandably) angered by his delinquency and other antics.
  • First Kiss: Damita taking the initiative and aggressively kissing Duncan (complete with butt squeeze) as he flopped around like a rag doll.
  • Fish out of Water: Duncan trying to adapt to life as Blade Brown, while Blade trying to adapt to life as a genius.
  • The Family for the Whole Family: Mink and his gang have a legitimately threatening edge to them (as they carry loaded guns and are competent enough to kidnap both Duncan and Wedge, with the latter one being implied), but their execution still leaves a lot to be desired. For starters, after abducting Duncan, they keep him alive throughout the night to threaten and crack jokes at him instead of shooting him then and there, they apparently don't know enough to have extra bullets with them before doing a job, at one point when he tries to escape from the car, Mink's two henchmen get into an argument because the other left his gun in the trunk and they ultimately end up being overpowered by a group of high-schoolers. And let's not even get into their lackluster aiming skills.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Defied by Blade. When he grows angry with Duncan's pitiful emulations of him, he sits him down and orders him to improve his lingo:
    Blade: It's like, You don't 'kick some butt'; you'd be 'kickin' some ass!' You don't 'hit on a girl'; you'd be 'hittin' on a bitch!'
  • Happily Married: Duncan's parents are seen as this. They even fool around at the end of the film after his father joyously catches him in bed with Damita.
  • I Can't Dance: Duncan, very much so. He even accidentally slaps Blade when the latter is teaching him to dance, resulting in him smacking him back.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog; In the middle of the car chase to rescue Duncan, Popsicle calls his hard-of-hearing Uncle, he claims that he's in the hospital with a broken leg and then claims that he needs to go walk his dog.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Wedge when he thought he was going to be killed.
  • Inner City School: Parodied. The rundown inner city school is in the same building as the prestigious Elaborate University High, seperated only by a door. Book Worm Duncan and the kid-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks Blade end up in each other's classes by mistake after their records get mixed up.
  • Innocent Innuendo: When Blade was giving Duncan a make over, Duncan's father overhears what is happening and misinterprets the whole scene.
    Blade: You know you're gonna like it! Stop squirming or I'll hold you down!
    Duncan: Will you stop blowing me?! You're getting me much too hot! Ow!
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Right before the ending, Duncan's parents hear bed squeaking, and fear Duncan and Blade are having sex. John goes to investigate, and finds Duncan having sex with Damita. He is inordinately overjoyed that his son his straight.
    Mr. Pinderhughes: And son... Don't forget to put your "jimmy hat" on.
  • Jive Turkey:
    Principal Kratz: Well I don't give a hootnanny what you think you are- Bub! You're not going to intimidate me Jack!
    • Blade trying to teach Duncan how to speak street. Needless to say, he be needin' some more practice.
  • Leitmotif: Basically when the main characters appear on-screen. Notably Wedge's theme being the funniest, full of noise-blurts and off-key notes.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Throughout the movie, Blade says Duncan's last name every way possible except for "Pinderhughes." Though of course this is mostly due to him being a jerk.
    Blade: It's me! Duncan Pincushion!
    Duncan: [sighs heavily] It's Pinderhughes...
  • Mistaken for Gay: Hip-hop culture is so foreign to Duncan's parents that when Duncan starts associating with Blade, they start to suspect that their son is gay.
    Mrs. Julie Pinderhughes: Dear what's the matter?
    Mr. John Pinderhughes: Julie, have you ever wondered about our son's sexual... preference?
    Mrs. Julie Pinderhughes: Hee... You know, I never really was aware that he had one.
    (Both laugh)
    • Blade runs into Duncan's parents on the way out.
      Blade: Hey, you know that kid of yours, he's going make one hell of a homey! Nice cups.
      Mr. John Pinderhughes: Did he say...homo?!
      Mrs. Julie Pinderhughes: *gasp*
  • Narrator: Duncan at the beginning and end of the movie.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Duncan is skinny and unathletic but is capable of kicking a football incredibly hard just by assessing the weather and trajectory.
  • Nerds Are Virgins: Duncan and "Let's make bacon!" Ellen.
  • The Nicknamer: Popsicle, who will happily spout out a bunch of titles for anyone, even if they don't want it.
  • No Name Given: Ms. Brown aka Blade's Mom.
  • Odd Couple: Blade, the street savvy delinquent and Duncan, the awkward genius.
  • On One Condition: In order for Blade to get out of jail, he had to graduate high school.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Blade, Wedge, Popsicle, Fruity and Go-Go.
  • Pair the Spares: Downplayed: the guard at the jail that Duncan tells his story to asks him to set him up with the buxom school secretary after he is let out. They are later seen hugging and kissing after the school wins at The Knowledge Bowl.
  • Passing Notes in Class: Damita passes an implied sexual note to Duncan in class, which quickly get intercepted by Wedge, who growls at him, "Do I look stupid to you?!" To this, he asks, "Is that a trick question?"
  • Pimped-Out Car: Blade's precious Lucille, he proudly explains all the customizations that were done to her. He forces Duncan to drive it and threatens him not to get one scratch on her or they're going back to wood shop.
  • Product Placement: Coca-Cola
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: The Wax Museum chase.
  • Shout-Out: To Shakespeare: In an attempt to be flirtatious with Duncan (i.e Blade), Ellen recites "I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes..." from Much Ado About Nothing.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: An order given by Ellen and Damita to their respective partners.
  • Sidekick: Popsicle, who will hang out with anyone that he considers cool.
  • Straight Gay: According to a 2022 podcast, Mink is this. Aside from his clothing, one wouldn't realize this.
  • Swapped Roles: Theme of the movie.
  • Sweet Tooth: Popsicle, who is always seen sucking on a lollipop.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: A one-sided implication from Blade's teacher, Miss Simpson, who passes him a note that shocks him.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Duncan's first time at a club and trying to talk to the opposite sex.
    Duncan: Do you come a lot- I mean do you come here a lot?
  • Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: Going from Straight A Genius to Hardcore Criminal in one day, and vice-versa.
  • Traumatic Haircut:
    • As Blade's parole officer, Reichert, stands up to leave he tells Blade that the judge has arranged a special parting gift for him. Blade thinks he will be getting new shoes but it turns out it is a haircut, proceeded by a long drawn out F-Bomb.
    • Upon tossing away Duncan's glasses, Blade pretty much destroys Duncan's Hi-top fade by giving him hairlocs, all the while Duncan is screaming his lungs out.
  • Twinkle Smile: Duncan receiving Blade's gold-tooth, complete with audible gleam.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: A couple of times throughout the film; Ellen gives Blade a flower to Blade from her parents' garden since she finds him special (which he initially disagreed with) which he then put in a glass jar for his mother and he gives Duncan the confidence to display his rapping skills at the school anti-drug rally.