Ski School (1990)

Poster_of_the_movie_Ski_School This is the cinema of my youth. When I was a teenager, my primary love was what I call the “teen raunch” genre- movies usually set in high school or college (or somewhere those students would go), comedy-adjacent, with liberal helpings of T&A. I managed to find one I never saw at the time, and it’s been an interesting lesson in how I’ve grown up.

Dean Cameron was America’s Goofball for a while there – from Spicoli in the TV version of “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” in 1986 to this movie’s sequel in 1994, he had a long run of playing pretty much the same character – the high-functioning but exceptionally lazy loveable hero, the guy who nowadays would be “the stoner”. Here he’s Dave Marshak, one of the instructors at a popular ski resort / school; he’s in charge of the drunks and weirdoes of “Section 8”, and is in competition with Reid Jansen and the richies in “Section 1”. The boss of the ski school wants to kick Dave out so he can sell it to some rich developer, but Dave’s too popular, so it all rumbles round to a skiiing competition – rich kids vs. party animals.

There’s really not a ton more to say about the plot, but there’s a lot of shenanigans to enjoy. What is worth talking about are the rotten attitudes on display, that were often subtext in other T&A movies of the time, brought right out front-and-centre here. First up, it’s appallingly sexist. Women have to tolerate being mauled and leered at by pretty much every man and are supposed to smile politely when some slob asshole stares at her boobs and gives her a double-entendre greeting. Of course, there’s acres of female nudity on display, and hardly a male chest, but that’s so commonplace in these movies as to be barely worth mentioning.

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“Subliminal” messages are shown to work in this movie, so to get the main couple back together, a few of the heroes brainwash the woman into having sex with him again. Haha!! The number of women who are used as non-speaking, non-acting background boob fodder is truly a sight to behold. It got so repetitive at one point that my notes read “Yes, we all like boobs. Please move on”.

Even worse, because they draw such attention to it, is the homophobia. To get their own back on Section 1, our heroes use their female sidekick to trick two of their most evil guys into saying a bunch of lines which are secretly filmed and edited together to sound like they’re in love with each other; then she separately tells them to meet her, naked with the lights off, in a hotel room, and film their two seconds of romance plus the continuing disgust at being in bed with another man. Everyone laughs as the video is played and constant references to them being gay are made throughout the rest of the movie.

But it doesn’t end there – the next day there’s this exchange between the two unfortunates:

IDIOT 1: “I scammed on like three different chicks this morning”
IDIOT 2: “Way to make that homo stuff work for us!”

The Bard couldn’t have put it better (we know, because Dave quotes some Shakespeare at the beginning).

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If you’re still intrigued by this, the “comedy”, such as it is, is awful too. There’s an incredibly long setup for an unfunny 10-second indoor snowball fight gag; and the final skiing competition appears to be full contact, as both sides cheat like crazy, right in front of everyone, assaulting their opponents, lassoing their legs, and messing with the poles, none of which is even remotely amusing. They handily decide to pace out any scene which might raise a laugh by filling a good quarter of the movie with just straight skiing footage, too.

But we try and find the light in these dark movies. We have the first entry in our “IS ALWAYS FUNNY” series, where we rip off an identical bit from comic artist Sam Henderson and find things in movies that are always funny, no matter how many times you see them.

“Men in business suits dancing like crazy people at parties is always funny”

And the way that Section 8 wins, despite never once trying, and spending all their time getting drunk while the guys in Section 1 actually train, is an amusing reflection on how these films normally go (although in this case I sort of suspect it’s accidental).

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A really shockingly bad movie, that for some reason, probably contractual, got a sequel four years later. It’s also nice in a way to see that we’ve moved on at least a little – while women are sadly still forced to accept a lot of sexist garbage in the form of “compliments” or “just having a laugh”, there’s no way on earth blatant homophobia like this would get made today.

Rating: thumbs down

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