Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber Studio Classics - MY BODYGUARD and GRANDVIEW U.S.A. on Blu-ray ""

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Kino Lorber Studio Classics - MY BODYGUARD and GRANDVIEW U.S.A. on Blu-ray

MY BODYGUARD (1980; Tony Bill)
This is one of those films that has been a part of my life for a long time. I saw it on VHS when I was younger and liked it, but then I let it fall off my radar until I was in college. At that time, I was working at a video store and I created a number if special sections to highlight things like cult movies and some popular renters at our store on campus (we called them "college classics"). We also had an 80s movie section they I set up. I was and still am obsessed with films from this period because it's when I came of age and saw so many of them. My fascination with them expanded to wanting to highlight as many of them as possible in our 80s section. So I started to dig out the slightly more obscure stuff like MY BODYGUARD to fill out the section. Granted, I realize that a lot of people know and love this movie, but despite its popularity on HBO and such, it was far from as well remembered as the John Hughes stuff was. It also barely qualifies to be in considered an 80s movie because it came out in 1980, but feels a bit more like a 70s film. It is a gentle movie, but it one that exists in a world that felt more realistically representative of high school (and the experience of being bullied) than most movies I had seen at the time. I think the closest thing I've seen to it's tone - a nice balance of comedy and drama - comes out in the show FREAKS AND GEEKS. In a time when teen films were either raunchy comedies or slasher movies, MY BODYGUARD was so much more heartfelt and compassionate. Fox put the movie out and they even tried to market it as a wild comedy - pushing it as a sort of ANIMAL HOUSE-y kinda thing. It is truly so well put together though, it almost has the structure of a sports movie. Our hero is initially defeated, finds some small victory and gets cocky and then gets himself in trouble again. The movie ends with a remarkable conflict resolution (I won't spoil with what the scene is) that I have found compels even the most quiet of viewers to nearly rise to their feet and cheer. Think of the Buddy Revell fight in THREE O'CLOCK HIGH and you're on the right track. I think a big part of what makes the story so relatable is that Matt Dillon just plays a really convincing bully. I think we all kinda knew a kid like this and did our best to avoid him in the hallways at school. The last thing you wanted to do was get on the radar of an evil fella like that. Chris Makepeace (fresh off his role in MEATBALLS) plays a solid and perfectly slightly nerdy everyday kid that we can totally connect with and see why he runs afoul of Matt Dillon's character. Another performance that elevates the movie is that of Ruth Gordon - who plays Chris Makepeace's free-spirited grandmother. The interplay between her and Makepeace is great as are the scenes with Makepeace's dad (played well by Martin Mull). A highlight of the movie for me has always been the kid who shows Makepeace the ropes in his new school and gives him the lowdown on the bullies. This kid, played delightfully by non-actor Paul Quandt, will be one of your favorites when all is said and done too. And of course, I shouldn't neglect to mention a pre-FULL METAL JACKET (and pre-D.C. CAB) Adam Baldwin who is pretty great in the movie as well. Also, watch for a very young but totally vibrant Joan Cusack in the background of many school scenes. 
MY BODYGUARD has progressed from a nostalgic favorite to a true classic for me and I cannot recommend the movie highly enough.
Special Features:
The crown jewel of this disc is its brand new Audio commentary with director Tony Bill and Film Programmer Jim Healy. As I mentioned, this is one of my favorite movies and I hadn't heard much in the way of how it was made. Needless to say,  I was more than excited hear Tony Bill talk about it and he did not disappoint. He touches on all aspects of the production, including the script (and how it was changed), the casting and actors of the film as well as the locations. Healy is incredible knowledgable and knows all the main actors and basically the entire supporting cast as well and he is nicely able to draw out thoughts and stories from Tony Bill about the film.

MY BODYGUARD can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

GRANDVIEW, U.S.A. (1984; Randall Kleiser)
This is what I would basically call a nearly "lost" film. Not lost in the sense that the elements and the movie itself disappeared and were rediscovered years later, but rather lost in the sense that, despite a pretty great cast, GRANDVIEW, U.S.A. is very underseen by even the most passionate 80s movie fans. I remember finding a cheap copy of it on VHS twenty plus years ago and being fascinated that I had never heard of it before. Even though it got a DVD release, it's still one that doesn't get discussed. Is it a masterpiece? Not really, but for those seeking the goofy thrill of nostalgia you can get from an older film which features some of your favorite actors from a formative decade, it's worth a watch. The cast includes the dynamite trio of C. Thomas Howell, Jamie Lee Curtis and Patrick Swayze. Those three would be enough to grab my attention and get me to sit down for a viewing, but wait there's more. The likes of Jennifer Jason Lee, Troy Donahue, M. Emmet Walsh, Michael Winslow and John and Joan Cusack also make appearances as well. Basically, it's the story of small town America and a high school kid (Howell) about to graduate who has his plans for the future (college etc) thrown off by an older woman entering his life. The older woman in question (Jamie Lee Curtis) runs the local demolition derby and a love triangle develops between her, the high school kid and one of the derby drivers (Swayze). C. Thomas Howell was one of those obligatory 80s actors that was in a ton of films for a long time and sadly I don't see enough of anymore. Charming, charismatic and naive - he played a solid "kid next door" type and was almost always quite affable on screen.  I have a certain affection for this kind of slice of life dramedy and especially the way they used to do it back in the 80s. For me, it's about the 80s vibe and the use music and director Randall Kleiser is no stranger to using songs in his films. After all, he is the director of things like GREASE, SUMMER LOVERS (which I am a big fan of), FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR and THE BLUE LAGOON. He also did some interesting TV Movies in the 70s - THE BOY IN THE PLASTIC BUBBLE and DAWN: PORTRAIT OF A TEENAGE RUNAWAY. Not all of his films are music heavy, but the as I said, he doesn't shy away from the use of pop songs. GRANDVIEW, U.S.A. not only features a title song sung by Air Supply, but the soundtrack also includes "I Want to Do it With You" by The Pointer Sisters and several other generically 80s sounding songs peppered throughout. If you've had a crush on Jamie Lee since HALLOWEEN like I have, you should be more than fine to watch her be adorable and sexy in this film. And come on man, whose week couldn't use a little extra Swayze to make it better?

GRANDVIEW U.S.A. can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

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