By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
“I didn’t need an invite to any of their parties. I was the party.”
That’s Toby, a young man who was an outcast when he arrived at his tony new school in 1980s-era New England – a scholarship student stuck amongst the spoiled children of the elite. Brutally hazed or otherwise ignored, Toby could find only one friend – the son of the Colombian ambassador, an outcast himself.
So somehow, Toby (played by Thomas Mann) is able to move from scoring the occasional bag of weed as a way to sneak into the It Crowd to becoming their coke dealer, raking in big bucks from his disaffected classmates.
That’s the unlikely but true story behind The Preppie Connection, a film based on the notorious real-life case of Derek Oatis, a student at the prestigious Choate Rosemary Hall who smuggled in $300,000 of pure cocaine into the States in the ’80s. The movie opens today at Premiere Cinemas Westgate Mall 6, 7701 W. Interstate 40.
In the film, from director Joseph Castelo, townie Toby finds the drugs to be a fast track into acceptance, aiming particularly for attention from the pretty blonde Alex (Lucy Fry). Is it believable that his snobby classmates would only pay attention to Toby as long as he could provide them drugs? Absolutely. But is it believable that Toby would be able to sneak so much cocaine across the border without being caught? Nope.
That’s just one problem with the film, which only superficially sketches out most of its characters and is otherwise dull and flaccid in ways you wouldn’t expect a drug film to be. Preppie Connection is ultimately too tepid to be a thriller and too shallow to be a character study.
Look to Less Than Zero or Trainspotting if you’re looking for vibrant filmmaking, or read this interview with Oatis if you want to get some insight into the real story.