‘The School for Good and Evil’: does this movie adaptation live up to the book?



By Nina Figurelli, A&E Editor

A friendship based on true love can survive pretty much anything, even dark blood magic.


“The School for Good and Evil” is a Netflix adaptation of the original book series by Soman Chainani. In both the book and the movie, we get to see the journey of lifelong friends, Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie), as they explore a new world beyond their small-minded and ignorant town of Gavaldon. 


Sophie has always dreamed of becoming a princess and escaping her life with her mean stepmother while Agatha lives with her mother in a cottage in the woods and has been labeled as the town witch. Together, through their shared experiences as social outcasts, the two girls grow an inseparable bond.  


Right from the beginning, we see a stark difference between not only how the girls dress and their personalities, but also through their goals and aspirations. Sophie is striving to trade her Cinderella-paralleled life — before the bibbidi-bobbidi-boo — for one filled with luxury and a Prince Charming; Agatha on the other hand is more focused on enjoying what she values in the present, including her mother and Sophie, regardless of what others think of her.


It was also pretty humorous to watch Wylie play Agatha, who in the books is supposed to be ugly compared to Sophie, since she is gorgeous. Whenever Agatha talked about never considering herself as beautiful, I couldn’t help myself from laughing at the irony.


One day the girls go to the bookstore where they learn from the bookkeeper about the School for Good and Evil, a magical school meant to balance the power of heroes and villains in the classic fairy tales we all know and love. 


Intrigued by the idea of becoming a royal, Sophie goes to the wishing tree and places a letter inside explaining her desire to change the world and why she is worthy enough for life as a queen. 


Later that evening, as Agatha and Sophie are roaming the woods, a giant skeletal bird suddenly snatches the both of them away and flies into a distant, unfamiliar and mystical land: the School for Good and Evil. However, they soon realize once they are dropped off that they have been placed into the wrong schools; Sophie has been sorted into the School for Evil, and Agatha has been inducted into the School for Good.


Now the best friends must conjure a plan to help Sophie switch schools and allow Agatha to return to the world of readers, which is the fantasy world’s name for humans.


Obviously, with any movie adaptation, there are bound to be a few changes, but the deviations from the book were the least of this movie’s problems. 


I don’t know if it was the bad acting, cheesy script, low-budget CGI or all of the above but “The School for Good and Evil” was difficult to watch without cringing. The only things that really caught my eye with the film were the amazing costuming and the well-known cast. Kerry Washington, Charlize Theron, Michelle Yeoh and Laurence Fishburne are all seasoned professionals in Hollywood and it just seems unfortunate that such a great lineup of actors was wasted on this film.


With that being said, due to the contents of the original book, I never expected Netflix to pull off a movie like this. It just felt like a knock-off Descendents movie minus the iconic singing and dancing numbers. However, this movie is clearly meant for a younger audience so I won’t be giving it too much grief for the corny writing. 


“The School for Good and Evil” did have a heartfelt message on friendship, and didn’t stray from the central themes and takeaways from the original book. One aspect that I did enjoy from this movie was the way it depicted how not everyone is 100% good or evil, and it even showed the hypocrisy within the supposed School for Good.


While, in my opinion, this movie didn’t live up to the expectations set by the book. If you read the book series as a kid, I would say that “The School for Good and Evil” is definitely worth a watch just for nostalgia’s sake.