The Substitute 4: Failure is Not an Option (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

There probably aren't any truly great movies with a colon in the title, and there probably aren't even any watchable ones with 4 in the title, unless you count "Buttman Goes to Rio 4", and that isn't the same sense of "watchable" that I meant to convey. (Or maybe Star Wars IV: A new Hope, which is a cheat since it was actually a #1.)

Given that as our genre -  #4 movies - this is one of the better ones. If watching #4's is your thing, this may be your Citizen Kane. In all other cases, you might opt out in favor of something more interesting, like a special on paramecium on the Discovery Channel, or maybe an in-depth study of cold fronts on The Weather Channel.

If you really must know, Treat Williams plays an undercover military intelligence officer assigned to a military academy which has been turned into a secret breeding ground for white supremacists. Actually, they don't just hate non-whites. They also hate homosexuals, atheists, open book tests, sub-titles, foreign restaurants, and umlauts. They even kick some Amish bonnet-wearing ass when they get a chance, just because the Amish look sorta foreign. The boys are conflicted on Vienna sausage, however. They hate it because it sounds foreign, but they like it because Hitler was an Austrian.

Now that I think about it, the academy isn't a very secret racist breeding ground if Treat knows about it.  But that isn't as illogical as some of the other aspects of the script. 

For example, Treat is working undercover as a history teacher. Angie Everhart is in bed with him one night when he gets a call in the middle of the night and has to excuse himself from their sexual encounter for work-related reasons. A middle-of-the-night history teaching emergency? Undoubtedly, some student has forgotten the winning strategy at the Battle of Actium. Despite this rather flimsy premise, Angie is not at all suspicious that the Treatmeister might have some other life beyond history teaching. 

At another point, Treat leaves a military ball in full dress because he sees a few of the racist cadets leaving together. He asks a cadet to get Angie a drink, as if to indicate he would soon return. When he gets outside, it's daytime, he's wearing fatigues, and decides to jump on the back of a military truck!

I don't think you'll find anything new or much worthwhile in this film. Choppy editing and a clichéd script make this the same-old, same-old made-for-video low quality stuff. On the other hand, this film does reach out and take the courageous intellectual stand that Nazis are bad, so I guess I learned from that. I know it changed my mind. All this time I thought they were just misunderstood. 

The film does have two redeeming virtues:

  1. Treat Williams is actually good in this. I don't know who he pissed off to end up in this kind of crap, but he does an excellent job at building a tough and likeable character. It's a shame he's wasted in this film that nobody will (or should) see.
  2. Two ladies showed us some a them-thar fancy Hollywood titties.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • two deleted scenes, bios, and a still gallery



  • K.C. Powe flashed her breasts while getting dressed, and in a passionate sex scene with a cadet.
  • Angie Everhart showed her breasts in two different sex scenes with two different men.
The Substitute 4: Failure is not an Option was funded by HBO, and has Treat Williams reprising his role yet again. This time, however, he is not kicking minority ass in inner city schools. He is asked by a General to go undercover at the Georgia Military Academy where the General's  grandson is a student. Seems that the school has radically changed character with a new commandant, and the grandson has broken off contact after becoming a member of the elite "Werewolf Squad." It soon becomes obvious that the commandant, Patrick Kilpatrick, is a white supremacist training his own private army to attack minority businesses. Treat becomes involved with the school doctor, Angie Everhart, meets two other men who have also infiltrated the school, and investigates. Of course there is the inevitable showdown.

With a female breast count of four, some good performances, and some nice martial arts action, it is diverting enough that I was not tempted to fast forward.

The Critics Vote

  • No reviews from Ebert or major print reviewers, but the consensus was about one and a half stars from the internet reviewers. Apollo 44, 2/5

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 4.3, Apollo users 41/100. 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Tuna evaluates the film as a C. Scoop felt it was a waste of time and scored the film itself a D, but thought Treat did a good job in the lead.

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