Second Union

Second Union

VINTAGE SUMMER: Where the Boys Are (1984)

“One bottle of a hundred and fifty proof rum, birth control pills, some Midol, my father’s American Express card, king-sized bottle of Alka-Seltzer, one sexy black teddy, a lid o’ grass, and a quarter just in case I have to call home. I think that oughta get me through the night.”

Where the Boys Are, 1984 (Lisa Hartman) Tri-Star Pictures

Some of these movies are harder to get into than others. Where the Boys Are isn’t a word-for-word, shot-for-shot remake of the classic 1960 beach romp starring, among others, Connie Francis, Yvette Mimieux, George Hamilton, and Frank Gorshin. Rather, the premise is re-explored. The original movie was bold and ground-breaking in its frank discourse of premarital sex, birth control, rape, and virginity that also spawned the eponymous hit single for Francis. Moving forward to the comparably “liberated” 1980s, four friends decide to take a trip to Fort Lauderdale, ostensibly as a reason for Carole (Lorna Luft) to ditch her clingy boyfriend Chip for a few weeks and have some fun.

She takes Jennie (Lisa Hartman), Laurie (Lynn-Holly Johnson), and Sandra (Wendy Schaal) with her. Along the way, they pick up beefcake hitchhiker/musician, Scott Nash (Russell Todd) who proceeds to court Hartman. One of the bigger problems of these movies is the age of the leads. The four girls are supposed to be “co-eds,” but with the exception of Johnson (whom you may remember as the champion figure skater in For Your Eyes Only), all are over the age of 30. Sandra gets into trouble when she has a little too much to drink, hurls obscenities at a cop, and decks him. Sandra and Laurie are arrested, so the girls need $400 bucks to pay their bail.

Conveniently, the “Hot Bod” contest is underway and Carole is persuaded to enter. Apparently, she has the hottest “bod,” but as with most movies like this, Chip arrives just in time to see her shucking and jiving on the big beach-front stage and he is upset, to say the least. Carole manages second place netting them $150. They flip a coin and spring Laurie. The cop Sandra slugged takes pity on her and releases her in exchange for a cup of coffee.

After this cute development, we’re halfway through the movie and we’ve resolved arguably the most important part of the story, right? Wrong! There’s more fun to be had! There’s a rather lengthy (but funny) scene of the girls having fun with a male blow-up doll that seems largely improvised. Schaal receives instructions on how to properly make out with the blow-up doll. She bites the doll and it explodes, so they take it to the beach for a burial at sea.

The movie runs out of steam long before the end, but in some ways, is quite inventive. The scenes with the girls appear affectionate and genuine. Other scenes play as gender-reversed slobs versus snobs pastiches. It appears to me the crux of the movie is the girls negotiating relationships with the men in their lives, which can get pedantic and grating. Otherwise, this is a fine movie with a decent structure even if it was nominated for five Golden Raspberry Awards (and a win for Johnson), but that may have had more to do with comparisons of the original movie than on its own merits. This is almost a chick-flick. I just don’t know if it can be called a remake, but I can tell you I do care about these girls, and that’s more than I can say for most of these sex comedies.

That about does it for VINTAGE SUMMER. This was a lot of fun, and it was great to go back and re-watch these movies. Special Thanks to Tony Verruso and the Vintage HBO Guides group on Facebook for providing encouragement and support at a time when I really needed it. Next up, horror movies and Halloween with VINTAGE OCTOBER — all month long!

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