What can I say about ZAPPED? It's a rather silly sex comedy about a nerdy kid who gets telekinetic powers after an accident in his laboratory at school. The nerdy kid's name is Barney and he's played by Scott Baio. Now Scott Baio is well known for a number of television shows. He was of course "Chachi" on HAPPY DAYS which was a hugely popular show in the late 1970s. His character was even spun off of that show into JOANIE LOVES CHACHI, which had a brief run in 1982 (the same year that ZAPPED! came out). He went on to do CHARLES IN CHARGE and ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT later on. Interestingly, his CHARLES IN CHARGE co-star was Willie Aames, who also co-starred with him here in ZAPPED!. Aames was another TV kid like Baio, working a ton in the 70s. His biggest hit was the family drama EIGHT IS ENOUGH, which was a big deal right around the same time as HAPPY DAYS. So both actors broke out into movies around the same time too. Aames did the raunchy comedy SCAVENGER HUNT in 1979, and Baio did the roller disco classic SKATETOWN U.S.A. Both of them followed their more comedic feature debuts with dramas - Baio with Adrian Lyne's FOXES and Aames with the BLUE LAGOON-inspired PARADISE (which came out only a few months before ZAPPED). All this is just to give a little context for these two guys. In ZAPPED, Aames plays the freewheelin', playboy rich kid named Peyton who happens to be Barney's best friend. Peyton is a bit of a scam-artist type and so he immediately sees possibilities for Barney's new found powers - and let's just say they are more on the mischievous side than the righteous side. The movie overall is more of a CARRIE ripoff and even ends with a send up the the infamous climax from that film. What's enjoyable about it is that it is definitely an R-rated comedy. There's a good amount of nudity, drug use (Barney is working on a special marijuana strain in the school lab where he's growing orchids for the principal) and general perversion. The movie knows no boundaries of political correctness either and that is kind of delightful. It's a holdover from another time and despite it being not the greatest movie ever, it is still enjoyable to rewatch because of its energy and the obvious chemistry between Aames and Baio. You can see why they worked together more after this movie. Oh and I forgot to mention Heather Thomas, who is the main "desired girl" in the film. She is absolutely gorgeous and certainly another big reason to watch ZAPPED!.
THE WHOOPEE BOYS (1986; John Byrum)
This movie is a bit more under the radar than ZAPPED, but it is worthy of your attention. Now I've been a Michael O'Keefe fan since CADDYSHACK, but I've always liked him as more of a smart-ass than he was in that movie. He can play charismatic, strange and funny along the lines of Chevy Chase if given the opportunity. And with somebody goofy like Paul Rodriguez to play off of, he's even better. Especially when Rodriguez plays an boorish brute with absolutely no filter whatsoever (almost aggressively so at times).The duo are a couple of hustlers who find themselves escaping to Palm Beach Florida from New York City after a brief skirmish with the law. To get out of town, they scam their way into driving a car that needs to be driven down to the Sunshine State. When they drop it off (six weeks late), they end up at a posh party and do their best to mingle and look for suckers. When they think they've found a gal with a half million dollars to invest, they end up back at her estate. Turns out she's a woman with a problem. She has this great little special school that she runs, but the place is gonna be shut down and made into condos in thirty days if she can't get the cash she needs. The catch is that she's actually heir to a fortune, but she has to get married to claim it and her uncle has to approve her choice of spouse. In order to get approved, said spouse has to come off as cultured and refined. As a result, The boys have to go to charm school to properly pass as husband material. The setup is lovely for a low-brow 80s comedy like this and it is an interesting thing for the guy who played Danny Noonan to be in yet another movie that kind of has a "Slobs against the Snobs" undercurrent to it. The charm school stuff is a lot of fun because the supporting cast there includes the amazing Eddie Deezen (a longtime favorite of mine) as well as Marsha Warfield ("Roz" from NIGHT COURT), who is also awesome. The "institute" as it were is run by Denholm Elliott (RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK) and his wife. Cult actor Joe Spinell even makes an appearance. The whole thing feels like the training sequences with the new recruits in a PLOICE ACADEMY movie or something. It's the farthest possible thing from politically correct and it is delightful. Rodriguez feels like he's off book and improvising nearly the entire movie and it's pretty crude and mostly hilarious. to All told, this is just the kind of raunchy comedy that I had a great weakness for as a youngster in the 80s. The presence of Taylor Negron in a supporting role always meant quality to me back then and it still does now.