Sean S Cunningham, called “one of the most despicable creatures ever to infest the movie business” by famed critic Gene Siskel, never saw a movie bandwagon he didn’t jump on. Because he started off the “Friday the 13th” series, he’s given a weirdly large amount of respect, but we here at the ISCFC know better. After “Porky’s” graced the world with its presence in 1982 and made an absolute fortune at the box office, the floodgates were opened – as long as you had horny teens, sunshine and women willing to disrobe on camera, you were set.
The concept of Spring Break is a weird one to us Brits. It seems an almost entirely American phenomenon, as during Easter week, our students are too busy taking their clothes home to their parents to get them washed, or working in a local pub to earn a few £££ for the next term, or studying. There was a brief spate of spring break movies in the early 60s (most famously, “Where The Boys Are”) but that mini-trend died away quite quickly, only to return when movie producers, inspired by “Porky’s”, “Meatballs” and so on, realised that teens had disposable income to spend at the cinema. Nowadays, it’s more likely to be used as the inspiration for a horror movie (“6 teens decide to spend spring break at a deserted cabin in the woods”), but in the mid 80s we were treated to many examples of college kids off to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to drink in the local culture and take part in many broadening pursuits. Sorry, misprint in my notes there – I meant to say “to drink their own bodyweight in beer and have sex with as many women as possible”.
This is a movie about people from different walks of life meeting each other, getting along pretty much straight away, and having a fine time. Wait, what? A cheap nasty hotel room in a cheap nasty hotel is double-booked by uptight college “inbetweeners” – neither nerd or jock – Nelson and Adam (David Knell and Perry Lang) and New York working stiffs Stu and OT (Paul Land and Steve Bassett). Rather than flip out, they all get drunk together by the pool, and decide the next morning that they should share the room and have a great time together. Stu and OT are naturals with the ladies and immediately work their magic, but Nelson and Adam, while a little on the nervous side, are both fine too, which I can’t state enough is extremely surprising for a teen raunch movie.
The plot is as perfunctory as possible, and is absolutely crammed with the most ludicrous coincidences, indicating one should ignore it and go back to the movie. Adam’s stepdad, Ernest Dalby, is a senatorial candidate, and for some reason is bribing a sleazy local guy to force a hotel to close so he can buy it and turn it into…a mall maybe? It’s a little unclear on that point. Adam, out of all the hotels and spring break locations in the world, picked the exact same hotel (the hotel owner is sleazy local guy’s sister-in-law). There’s a scene later on where our four heroes, walking from a bar back to their hotel, decide to walk on the docks and happen to run into Dalby’s boat, as he’s found out that his son has gone on spring break, against his express demands…a scandal could ruin his campaign, is the reason given. Drinking legally and having a good time was a scandal in 1983? Ah, how times have changed. Although, even though the stinger of the movie is someone – no spoilers – getting arrested for drink driving, the attitude of the rest of the movie is very casual, with drivers of cars visibly chugging beers, and a drinking-all-day Nelson driving the streets of Fort Lauderdale.
The friendship of the main four is kind-of refreshing, and you can tell they’ve bonded when, for no reason, they all use the same urinal – I don’t want to give this movie too much credit, but all that stuff was really well done. And, while there are plenty of boobs in this movie (although none til 25 minutes, an almost unheard-of length), it’s really almost (dare I say it) equal? OT wears nothing but short jean shorts the entire movie, attracting many a happy look from the ladies, and the women appear to be just as happy as the guys to get drunk and have one-night stands. As well as the wet-t-shirt contest, there’s a Wet He-Shirt contest too, and Nelson discovers while taking part that some women like a confident guy (having perhaps the least plausible threesome in movie history). Adam bonds with his love interest over Galaga, even if he does have to take over the console to show her how it’s done…perhaps I’m judging its sexual equality relative to other teen raunch movies, but there you go.
As has become almost standard in these movies, there’s a future famous person in a tiny, uncredited role – this time, it’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star and standup Jeff Garlin as “Gut Gut”, the champion of the pool bellyflop contest (6 years before his next credit of any kind, which indicates he was probably just a drunk frat guy hired as an extra). And, former Penthouse pet and future “Amazon Women On The Moon” video date segment star Corinne Wahl is OT’s love interest, and we get the delight of her sub-Runaways band performing two of the worst songs known to humanity. Saying that, the entire soundtrack is beyond terrible (with the honourable exception of 38 Special, so my wife says).
Add in a large, completely out of place slapstick brawl and an extremely unlikely ending, and there you go. If this had been made a couple of years later, I imagine it’d have been orders of magnitude more cynical and sex-filled, but this feels charming and almost quaint. Watch this and only feel slightly ashamed!
Rating: thumbs up