"High School USA" (1983)
Genre: Comedy, Television
Directed By: Rodney Amateau, Rod Amateau
Written By: Larry Mintz, Alan Eisenstock
Runtime: 96 minutes
Studio: Hill-Mandelker Films
TV movie starring Michael J. Fox as the average high-schooler JJ Manners who must compete with popular snobbish student Beau Middleton (Anthony Edwards) for the affections of the lovely Beth Franklin (Nancy McKeon). Major shenanigans ensue, including a destructive robot and more than one wild car race.
This is a surprisingly entertaining movie! It’s actually really good.
There are a lot of characters. And a lot of little storylines being built up throughout, some intertwining…This is why I think it could have made a fab TV Show, as well as being a fab movie. There was potential there – I think, at least!
There are also a few familiar faces. Most namely, Anthony Edwards, Crispin Glover, and Michael J Fox. This pre-Back To The Future film teamed up Michael J Fox and Crispin Glover in much the same dynamic as in Back To The Future. Crispin Glover plays an awkward outsider (the buses seriously don’t drive where he lives) once again. This is the second of three times Michael J Fox and himself acted together, the first being in an episode of “Family Ties” in Season 2. I admit I have only seen Anthony Edwards in his notorious role as Goose in Top Gun. But it was fresh to see him playing such a character contrast here as Beau.
The physical comedy is great. Maybe at times a tad ignorant given that most of it revolves around a teacher who is blind. I don’t think they’d get away with this sort of thing today. There’s a scene which plays out between he and JJ in which JJ is late for class and attempts to outsmart the teacher by making it to his desk unnoticed. The physical comedy here is hilarious from both actors. In spite of JJ’s ardent attempts, the teacher outwits him in amusing fashion. A well-choreographed scene in my opinion. Much of the other physical comedy occurs, again from Michael J Fox, but also among the other characters. There is a lot of clumsy falling over. There is also comedy between 2 female students in ardent search of the most naturally beautiful photo to present in their photography club. Their conclusion being - what could be more so than Beau's ass, their passionately thought out attempts resulting in amusing strategies and results. You can imagine where this subplot lead to...
There’s also the robot, which I mentioned in the summary whom I can’t go this review without talking about because it’s a dote! JJ’s best friend is something of a mechanical genius, who has made a robot that will obey voice command. “Robot: door” (he’ll break down the door) and so on. These three are my favourite aspect of the film. It’s hard to not care about the robot – who also is at the heart of some amusement. When Beau encounters the robot, unimpressed, he unintentionally commands the robot, “Robot: my ass”…You can guess what happens next... Laughs both on and off screen. The robot is a character of its own.
As a whole the atmosphere and proceedings are a bit pretentious to a point. But then again, I guess it falls in with the 80s-high-school-universe that John Hughes gave us in later years. I’m reminded most of the social classes and social high-arci in “Pretty In Pink”. However, unlike these films, in this case the teachers have storylines of their own too which I felt was good. Their devil may care antics were just as amusing as the students and added another dynamic to the plot.
I feel that this is a seriously underrated movie. I mean, it has as much genuine comedy and wit as any other more popular teen movie. And once the characters are established and we know what’s what, just as engaging a story. I mean, the cast are fab. It’s such a shame because then more people would know about it and watch it and see how good it is and laugh and enjoy life.
I really love this. I highly recommend it. In fact, normally I simply leave a link to the trailer below in my reviews, but the trailer doesn't do it justice at all, at all. So seeing as the whole film is actually on YouTube, I'll let you lovely people the link to the movie wholas-bolas.... Enjoy :)