REVIEW / MOVIES\ BOOGIE' MAY BE THE END FOR ROLLER-DISCO
Boston Globe - December 21, 1979
Author: Michael Blowen Globe Correspondent
A film directed by Mark Lester. Produced by Irwin Yablans. Starring Linda Blair and Jim Bray. At the Sack Beacon Hill and suburbs. Rated PG.
Everyone is always complaining that Hollywood never produces any films with social value. But "Roller Boogie" may change that. It may do something that all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't do - it may kill roller-disco once and for all.
It raises penetrating questions that haven't been addressed since James Darren went "moondoggy" over "Gidget." Can a classical flutist (Linda Blair)from Beverly Hills find true happiness with a champion skater from Venice (California, that is)? Can this pair of skate-crossed lovers save the roller-disco from demolition? Can they outwit an attempt by organized crime to put up a shopping mall? Will she give up her scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music to live forever on Speedway boulevard with this roller Romeo?
Purists will complain that all the essential inquiries into the nature of California Dreamin' were raised in such landmark films as "Bikini Beach" (1964), "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini"(1966), and "Gidget Grows Up"(1969). Some critics might complain that the performances of Linda Blair and Jim Bray aren't up to the high standards set by Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. But they're just not "with it."
Admittedly, "Skatetown, USA" was the first film to deal with this pressing social issue but we had to wait until "Roller Boogie" for the definitive word on roller-disco. Director Mark Lester's vision of this adolescent extravaganza seethes with the inherent dramatic tension of disco discs and a roll around the track at Jammer's Skateland. His camera never flinches even when confronted by such controversial scenes as a battle between the team of Blair and Bray and the rest of the roller-disco raconteurs in the Big Boogie Contest. He never once reaches for the profound when a cliche will suffice.
Linda Blair hasn't looked better since her head was spinning and she was expectorating green in "The Exorcist" and Jim Bray's screen debut is only surpassed by that of Tommy Rettig's in "The Last Wagon."
"Roller Boogie" has all the sensitivity, warmth, and insight of "Don't Knock the Twist" and it's in color. What more could a roller-disco fan ask for
REVIEW / MOVIES\ SKATETOWN' A DISCO DISASTER
Boston Globe - December 12, 1979
Author: MICHAEL Blowen
SKATETOWN, USA - A film written, directed and produced by William Levey. Starring Scott Baio, Ron Palillo, Kelly Lang, Maureen McCormick, Greg Bradford and Patrick Swayze. At the Sack Saxon and suburbs. Rated PG.
It took writer-producer-director William Levey two days to draft the story for "Skatetown, USA" and he wasted his time. He should have rolled on down to the local roller-disco and boogied the two days away instead of subjecting unsuspecting audiences to this embarrassingly inept disco disaster.
Obviously, Levey wanted to cash in on roller-disco before this tentative trend ended up in a garage filled with hula hoops. He assembled some bubble gum stars from television - Scott Baio of "Happy Days," Ron Palillo of "Welcome Back Kotter" and Maureen McCormick of "The Brady Bunch" - and even threw in Flip Wilson and Ruth Buzzi for any adults suffering from arrested development.
Levey achieved his objective. "Skatetown, USA" is the first roller-disco movie to hit the screen. But he forgot to tie his dramatic laces together. Instead of dazzling us with unforgettable twists, turns, somersaults and light shows, Levey simply records the dreary details of these cinematic stumblebums.
Perhaps this judgment is too harsh for such an innocuous piece of fluff. Actually it does have one redeeming feature. It is only scheduled to play in Boston for a week.
Too Many Knights in the Same Old Town
Washington Post, The (DC) - May 20, 1980
Author: Gary Arnold
The Hollywood Knights," the motleyest imitation yet of "American Graffiti," illustrates how rapidly decay can set in after a concept is generally recognized as appealing in Hollywood. The idea of "American Graffiti" was rejected by every major studio (and some twice) before finally being shot for the paltry sum of $800,000 and released successfully in 1973.
Its success inspired a popular TV series, "Happy Days," which then became the model for increasingly strained spinoffs and imitations. "American Graffiti" no doubt paved the way for fitfully interesting theatrical disappointments like "American Hot Wax" and "The wanderers." The derivative trail seemed to come to a dead and last summer when George Lucas himself collabrated on "More American Graffiti," a misbegotten sequel to his original triumph. With "The Hollywood Knights," Floyd Mutrux, the director of "American Hot Wax," seems determined to wear out the welcome of a once-amusing nostalgic device once and for all.
"Knights" relies on a soundtrack full of golden oldies to evoke the ostensible setting. Beverly Hills on the Halloween night, 1965. The members of a car club, the Hollywood Knights, cruise in and out of their favorite meeting place, a drive-in diner called Tubby's that is scheduled to close the following day, victimized by uptight residents and urban renewal.
The jerky, threadbare continuity is devoted to savoring the antics of the most irrespressibly clowish Knights, notably an obnoxious campus cutup called Newbomb, embodied by a smirky galoot named Robert Wuhl. Sort of a cheerless, vague reminder of Dick Shawn, Wuhl betrays the ill effects of too many appearances as a facetious would-be escort on Chuck Barris' "The Dating Game." He already resembles stale comic goods in his movie debut. Moreover, he appears so old for the role that one is left with the impression that Newbomb must have been repeating the 12th grade since about 1950.
Evidently destined for a career as the slimiest lounge comedian in Las Vegas, Newbomb celebrates this farewell Halloween by repeatedly humiliating other subspecies: Gailard Sartain (who played The Big Bopper in "The Buddy Holly Story") and Sandy Helberg as stoogy patrolmen; Leigh French and Richard Schaal as adulterous upper-middle-class hypocrites; Stuart Pank as a fat adolescent mama's boy. The Newbomb repertoire relies all too heavily on stinky chestnuts: food-chuckling, mooning, flatulence, even the old flaming dog doo on the front porch. He's got a handful of hot ones, does Newbomb.
The derivative ineptitude of Mutrux's burlesque humor is epitomized in his borrowing of the sight gag from the cover of the National Lampoon's High School Yearbook Parody. You'd think that moving pictures might do more with the idea of a pantyless cheerleader than a still photograph could, but Mutrux is so imprecise and inattentive that the forgetful (or exhibitionistic) cute isn't even caught from wittly revealing, decisive angles. Mutrux canan barely be trusted to get a laugh out of can't miss, pie-in-the-face situation.
Mercifully, not every Knight is supposed to be a card. There are subdued subplots dealing with a member about to join the Army (and presumably perish in Vietnam) and another (Tony Danza of "Taxi") at odds with his girlfiend (Michelle Pfeiffer), a carhop with dreams of a Hollywood career. Although it comes as a welcome change of emphasis, the "serious" motif is as superficial and perfunctory as the farce. Nothing takes hold within this spastically facetious, centrifugal filmmaking context. Moreover, the dialogue tracks seem so poorly recorded or mixed that the conversation is often reduced to incomprehensible static.
Mutrux is probably a genuine child of pop culture, and he showed some comic aptitude in "American Hot Wax." He's backpedaling in "Holloywood Knights," a disgraceful trifle predicated on an idea whose time has passed. Far from showing continued promise, Mutrux has now identified himself as a kind of untutored, remedical-school imitator of George Lucas.
TWO VERY FORGETTABLE FLICKS DEBUT
Philadelphia Daily News (PA) - March 9, 1983
Author: JOE BALTAKE, Daily News Movie Reviewer
Regarding two of the new films that opened over the weekend, let me just say this: If I had more time, I would have been briefer:
"SPRING FEVER" A comedy starring Susan Anton, Jessica Walter and Frank Converse. Introducing Carling Bassett. Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan. Written by Stuart Gillard and Fred Stefan. Music by Fred Mollin. Running Time: 100 minutes. In area theaters. (Screened at the Ellisberg Cinema, New Jersey)
The print ads for this film loom as yet another message to and from middle America: It shows two bikini-clad young women dousing a not-so-unhappy stud with light beer. Specifically, they're spraying the foam in his crotch area.
I bring up this dubious ad, not because it titillated me, but because it has absolutely nothing to do with what goes on in the movie. One would be hard put to find either a beach or light beer in "Spring Fever," a throwaway comedy about a tennis tournament for teenage girls.
True, the central teen character (Carling Bassett) does get to jog on the beach, but she's wearing a sweat suit. And, yes, her show-girl mama (Susan Anton) does get to drink beer in the bar where she picks up men.
So much for beach-and-beer action in "Spring Fever" (even the title doesn't make sense!), a large part of which is devoted to the competition between the little girls in general and between the mothers (Anton and a wicked Jessica Walter) in particular. The clowning and bickering are terribly forced and, before long, "Spring Fever" seems nothing more than an extended (and endless) commercial for Nike sneakers, Dunlop tennis racquets, Bain de Soleil, Anton's teeth and her beer.
I'm not sure, however, if it's the same light beer used in the ads.
One great scene: Anton singing to herself and catty Walter slipping her a bill for her services.
An action thriller starring Ben Murphy, Nina Axelrod, Kevin Brophy and James Karen. Directed by Tom Kennedy. Adapted by Tom Friedman and Karen Levitt from a story by Jason Williams and Friedman. Music by Richard Band. Running Time: 90 minutes. In area theaters (Screened at Budco Community, Barclay Farm, N.J.)
This movie bears a tenuous relationship to those old Mummy horror movies that were the bane of the '50s and still haunt certain TV channels on Saturday afternoons.
Its lone claim to fame, however, has nothing to do with the resurrection of a decrepit movie genre, but with its thorough lack of style. "time walker" is a veritable textbook example on how to make a horror film on the cheap - and without mirrors.
By restricting the action of his film to a college campus and by wrapping his monstrous thing in mummy garb, director Tom Kennedy had half of his film made. The remainder of it dotes on people who should know better (college profs, the police, brainy doctors) doing all the wrong things and going in all the wrong places on the misty campus.
Kennedy's mummy rises from his sarcophagus when a larky frat brother steals the five precious stones hidden in the tomb. Throughout the rest of the tilm, this "time walker" - a mummy from another galaxy - roams the campus, retrieving his stones and literally scorching the wrongdoers.
The cast is aptly flighty, risky and gabby, particularly Kevin Brophy as the fraternity house goof-off whose theft triggers the mayhem, and Nina Axelrod, a strong-willed, straight-haired blonde who gets to scream into the moonlight.
Note in Passing: I previewed "time walker" at South Jersey's Community Theater on the last day of the theater's existence. It is slated to become a restaurant. A sad farewell to yet another movie house. . .
Parental Guide: Both films are rated PG, both pretty much for their language.
'CHAUFFEUR' SURE TO DRIVE YOU NUTS
Miami Herald, The (FL)
March 20, 1986
Author: BILL COSFORD Herald Movie Critic
A genuinely weird sense of humor is at work in My Chauffeur, a comedy about a Madonna wanna-be who finds work with a Beverly Hills limousine service staffed by crusty old misogynists.
"You're deluded," says the limo boss to Casey, a flighty young woman. "Oooh. I've never had a 'lude in my life," says
That kind of thing.
My Chauffeur has moments of pure daffiness, unhinged stuff. But it is also the most ineptly made comedy in years, so badly made that it is ultimately unwatchable.
The film is such a catalog of blunders that it might well
serve as a film-school training tool. Continuity, that concept by which one shot within a scene seems logically to follow another, even though they may have been filmed at different times, is simply abandoned here. In one scene, an old driver is seen struggling hopelessly to light his pipe, which has broken apart and is in two pieces; when the camera cuts away and pulls back for a wide shot of the other drivers, there's the old man in the back, puffing contentedly and holding a cup of coffee that seems magically to have sprung into his hand. In another, a performance by a rock band, the singer's agent refers to the "stadium," when the performance is clearly taking place in a small room.
The script is similarly jumbled: In the opening scenes,
Casey arrives, desperate for the job despite the fact that the other drivers don't want her around. A scene later and she is no longer interested, and has to be persuaded to stay on. A scene later, she desperately wants the job again. The entire film is disconnected in this way; the direction is wretched.
But it is no worse than the performance by Deborah Foreman as Casey, who is by turns and for no apparent reason slatternly and sweetly innocent. Foreman grins throughout her performance, no matter what is happening, whether she is happy, menaced, confused, angry. Like the rest of the cast, which includes the strange magicians Penn and Teller as well as E.G. Marshall and Howard Hesseman, she appears to have performing skills, and even has her moments. But like the film, she is more often simply bad.
My Chauffeur (R) *
CAST: Deborah Foreman, Sam Jones, Sean McClory, Howard Hesseman, E.G. Marshall, Penn Jillette, Teller.
CREDITS: Director: David Beaird. Producer: Marilyn J. Tenser. Screenwriter: David Beaird. Cinematographer: Harry Mathias.
A Crown International Pictures release. Running time: 97 minutes. Vulgar language, nudity, sexual situations.
Herald movie critics rate movies from zero to four stars.
**** Excellent *** 1/2 Very Good
*** Good ** 1/2 Worth Seeing ** Fair
* Poor Zero: Worthless
TAKE ONE DEADLY HORROR FILM AND TWO JIGGLE MOVIES AND STAY HOME
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - October 14, 1986
Author: William Arnold P-I Film Critic
It used to be that movie distributors saved their lowest exploitation films for the summer audience. But with the vast number of hungry multiplex screens and an overall glut in exploitation production, the dogs of August now pop up all year long.
This week, for instance, a vacuum in the release schedule has invited a trio of summer-style exploitation pictures to hit town - a horror film, the long-delayed ''Deadly Friend''; and two beach pictures, ''Malibu Bikini Shop'' and ''Hardbodies 2.''
The first of these, Wes Craven's ''Deadly Friend,'' is a fairly routine ''teen-age Frankenstein'' movie reportedly bumped from the summer's schedule because of last-minute exhibitor anxiety over the failure of the previous summer's cycle of teen-age Frankenstein movies.
Based on a book by Diana Henstell, the film is about a teen-age genius (Matthew Laborteaux, of TV's ''Little House on the Prairie'') who implants an artificial-intelligence chip into the cortex of his brain-dead girlfriend.
In true Frankenstein tradition, the girl-monster soon runs amok and, faster than you can say Boris Karloff, is twisting off the head of her abusive, sicko father and doing in the grouchy neighbor who had earlier stolen her basketball.
Under the direction of horror veteran Wes Craven, this film treads the narrow line between satire and playing it straight rather well, and is always technically a cut or two above the level of the average exploitation horror vehicle.
But the film is so predictable and so unremarkable in every way that anyone who thought Craven's ''Nightmare on Elm Street'' heralded the advent of a daring new horror -movie talent will find ''Deadly Friend'' a considerable disappointment.
Over in the next auditorium we have something called ''Malibu Bikini Shop,'' which was filmed in Santa Monica and Venice, and has nothing at all to do with Malibu (the title on the print I saw did not even mention Malibu - it was called ''The Bikini Shop'').
In any case, the film is a jiggle comedy about two odd-couple brothers who inherit a bikini specialty shop that is in rather (you should pardon the word) shaky financial condition, and have to mount a massive bikini promotion to save the place from extinction.
In its heart of hearts, this movie is an old-fashioned late '50s ''nudie'' and exists as an excuse to show topless and scantily clad women in a variety of peekaboo, teasing poses and situations.
But the young cast is surprisingly appealing; the script is never really vulgar. Director David Wechter has worked in a couple of very stylish video- style fantasy sequences. And a good supporting cast of Hollywood veterans (among them Frank Nelson, Kathleen Freeman and Jay Robinson) all help make this innocuous little movie a lot more tolerable than its title and premise might imply.
There are, however, no such redeeming features to ''Hardbodies 2,'' a sequel to last year's ''Hardbodies'' and the second summer T&A movie of the week.
Loosely a comedy about an American movie company filming on location in the Mediterranean, this one is straight, soft-core pornography that goes out of its way to be crude and vulgar every chance it gets.
Like ''Malibu,'' the dominant visual motif is the bare breast, but instead of teasing his audience, director Mark Griffiths absolutely overwhelms it with breast montages.
Indeed, his movie is virtually a documentary on the mammary organ - and one that is so overdone and thoroughly unimaginative that even the most dedicated connoisseurs of skin will probably be bored by it.
Memo: MOVIE REVIEW
(1) ** Deadly Friend, directed by Wes Craven. Written by Bruce Joel Rubin. Cast: Matthew Laborteaux, Kristy Swanson, Michael Sharrett. Warner Bros. Several theaters. Rated R.
(2) ** Malibu Bikini Beach, directed and written by David Wechter. Cast: Michael David Wright, Bruce Greenwood, Barbra Horan, Jay Robinson, Frank Nelson. International Cinema. Several theaters. Rated R.
(3) * Hardbodies 2, directed by Mark Griffiths. Written by Mark Griffiths and Curtis Scott Wilmot. Cast: Brad Zutaut, James Karen, Alba Francesca, Roberta Collins. Cinetel Films. Several theaters. Rated R.
`WARRIORS` WEEKEND PASS TO BOREDOM
Sun-Sentinel - October 27, 1986
Author: ROGER HURLBURT, Entertainment Writer
Ever wonder why America has never been invaded by Romania?
Well, if we have slept at ease these many nights since August 1961, it`s because the Hollywood, Calif., branch of the Air National Guard has been ever vigilant.
In between their sophomoric branks, crude sexual jokes and dirty story get- togethers, the lads in uniform have kept us safe from the "slimy Commie hordes threatening to end civilization as we know it."
At least that`s the premise of director Bert (I`m-not-sure-what-I-really-do-in- show-business) Convy`s comedy film Weekend Warriors. While the film has one, possible two moments that garner a genuine laugh, this film should have remained AWOL.
The plot is utterly preposterous: The year is 1961 and a group of Hollywood film studio fellas -- actors, bit players, budding screenwriters, stuntmen and makeup artists -- are trying to stay out of regular military service by doing weekend stints at an Air National Guard base. Whew!
Sgt. Burge (Vic Tayback) is the gung-ho sort trying to whip the guys into shape. Good luck. Col. Archer (Lloyd Bridges) offers little encouragement; he`s a former actor who appeared in 86 "B" westerns ("and died in all of them.")
Add one more to the list, Lloyd.
This group of wisenheimers are tough to control. There`s a twerp, a macho man, a wise guy and a ring leader, the latter played by Chris Lemmon, son of actor Jack Lemmon.
And when the inactive status of these characters is suddenly classified as "active" -- much to the horror of Congressman Balljoy (Graham Jarvis) -- things really get out of hand.
So does the film. Guess who`s coming to watch a formal inspection? Why, none other than the Ambassador of Romania. Makes sense.
Aside from a brief chase between a Jeep and a truck laden with bottled water and an unspeakable "mooning" demonstration in the cafeteria, Weekend Warriors is a three-day pass to boredom.
Lemmon isn`t bad, but his material is. The rest of the cast walks through the film in one-take fashion. The finale, a cheap swipe of the funny ending to Bill Murray`s Stripes, has potential, but falls flat.
The R rating might make you think there`s lots of jiggle and flesh. Not so. The smattering of coarse language is gratuitous, too.
Save a few bucks; watch for this one in the video stores real soon