Ahh, those were the days. It feels like just yesterday I could stroll into any local video store, point myself towards the screwball comedy section, and get a warm mushy feeling in my stomach as I perused the latest offerings entitled if anything from “Fraternity Vacation,” (starring a boyish Tim Robbins) to “Cheerleader Camp,” (with a fresh faced Daphne Zuniga) to “Private Resort,” (boasting the sturdy one-two-three punch of Johnny Depp, Rob Morrow and Andrew Dice Clay). That’s all gone now. These days, with Blockbuster and their 17+ “not suitable for children” ratings putting all the less discretionary mom and pop video stores out of business, these movies have been unjustly excluded from the mainstream.
The Germans had their expressionist period in the 1920’s, the Italians their neorealist period in the 50’s, and the French their “New Wave” in the 60’s. What the 80’s kids so desperately need now is a name that will suitably describe the classic American cinema that marks their adolescence. Until a proper term is coined, we’ll just call these films “tit”ilating tidbits of tantalizing tawdry plotless, misogynistic, homophobic, ridiculous nonsense. What follows is a list, organized in descending order, of the three best moments from this genre in American Cinema. Equipped with and inspired by this list, perhaps someone out there can come up with a name that will accurately characterize a group of films overlooked by the allegedly highbrow film world.
- Stewardess School (1986):
Starring an older, wiser Donny Most, (Ralph Malph from Happy Days) this film stands near the top of the list of quintessential 80’s screwball comedies. This film has a plot wackier than any of the watered- down Jim Carrey crap that this decade stands responsible for, and could also go toe to toe with “Showgirls” for disturbing sexual innuendo. Here’s the situation: the Donny Most character and his steward(ess) team are taking their big final exam to see if they can become full fledged steward(esses). They’re in an airplane simulator, passengers and all, and hidden among these passengers is the one man who can make or break their fledgling careers as angels of the sky, the school superintendent. During the test, their performance is so shockingly bad that this guy begins to hyperventilate (don’t ask why). So he’s hyperventilating, and all the would-be flight attendants are getting worried that they’re going to fail. Enter the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold turned would-be-stewardess. Without a moment’s hesitation she takes a towel, puts it over her head, and proceeds to perform oral sex on the man. In a surprise ending, they pass the test and go on to long, rewarding careers serving drinks and placing tray tables in the upright position.
- Meatballs 3 (1987):
Patrick Dempsey (Loverboy, Mobsters, Outbreak) does star in the familiar nerd-turned-cool-guy role. Costarring is the ever stimulating Sally Kellerman (think of the female teacher in “Back to School”). She stars as a fairy godmother who was a porn star when she was alive. Sally’s character is sent to the summer resort that Dempsey works at to ensure that he relieves himself of the awful curse that is his virginity. It doesn’t matter who, it doesn’t matter where, all that matters is that he loses it. So, Sally and Patrick strike up a working relationship. The first thing she needs to do is set him straight on how women actually think. She informs him that women often don’t really say what they mean. Being a former porn star, she understands that sometimes women like to play a little hard to get. I don’t even have to tell you what brilliant advice she gives her impressionable young charge. You guessed it: “NO MEANS YES.” That’s right, even if they say no, they still want it, and they want it bad. As you can imagine, it isn’t long before Dempsey, armed with this new understanding of the opposite sex, loses his virginity. Thanks to Sally and her expert tutelage, young Patrick is now a man, and women across the land can sleep easier knowing that men finally understand them.
- Zapped (1982):
Oddly enough, this film stars another Happy Days veteran. Still reeling from the less than successful spinoff series “Joanie Loves Chachi”, Scott Baio stars as a nerdy high school student who miraculously gives himself superpowers in a botched science experiment. Using those new powers, Baio snares the girl of his dreams. There’s just one problem: this girl isn’t interested in satiating the raging adolescent desire of the 80’s era male. In the climactic bedroom scene between a revved up Baio and his new flame, everything almost unravels on him. Baio is in the process of kissing his fine female, gradually making his way down her chest towards her pelvis, and is about to untuck her fluorescent orange shirt when she looks him dead in the eye, and says “no, stop that.” Her desires seem pretty apparent here, and one is left to ponder how even the sexy Scott Baio is going to get what he wants. Never fear, he’s got it all under control. Using an editing style reminiscent of the young Orson Welles, the director cuts to a shot of Baio looking at her waist, and deciding that it’s time to break out the superpowers. He makes the gesture that indicates his use of said superpowers and the next thing you know they are engaged in surprisingly passionate intercourse during what is essentially a date rape. Who needs Roofies when you have superpowers. You don’t even have to slip a pill in their drink anymore. Now it’s as easy a flick of the eyebrows. OOOwee, I’m gettin’ a semi chubby just thinking about it. Q