by Christie Robb
Adolescent boys flex, fight, and run feral in Leo Milano’s high school comedy, The Crusades.
In a world devoid of parents, three friends—Leo (Rudy Pankow, Netflix’s Outer Banks), Sean (Khalil Everage, Netflix’s Cobra Kai), and Jack (Ryan Ashton, School for Boys) – are eager to establish themselves in the social hierarchy at their all-boys Catholic high school before the institution merges with the school from the inner city. The city boys are rumored to be bigger, stronger, and faster.
As the merger grows closer and with a school social mixer with the local all-girls school on the horizon, the main three boys are determined to have one last epic weekend together before the social landscape changes forever.
There are a lot of familiar tropes in this one—administrators with personal vendettas against students, kids trying to lose their virginity the night of the big dance, teachers with dubious moral authority, bloodthirsty bullies, Jackass-style pranks, kids fleeing through backyards…
That being said, the slapstick stupidity is sometimes pretty amusing, particularly Pankow’s increasingly broad wince and recoil from perceived attack. Which is good, because the movie is super violent. The main three are throwing punches, getting whacked in the nuts, or trying to stem their bleeding for the majority of the film. And when they aren’t, they are exchanging quips and dispensing dubious sex advice. (“Dong bags” are apparently reversible!)
Although there are girls and women in the cast, like Sean’s Girlfriend (Indiana Massara), Hot Teacher (Anna Maiche), and Girl Run Over by a Bike (Ashley Nicole Williams), they aren’t given much to do or any real character development. But then it’s not like any of the boys get character arcs either, despite the fact that the main three are fictionalized versions of co-writers Milano, Shaun Early, and Jack Hussar. (who also collaborate on the TV series School for Boys, which features many of the same characters from The Crusades.)
The flick is a lot of heteronormative, violent, masculine shenanigans with not much else to offer besides decent fight choreography and some quippy one-liners.