Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '87 - Hal Horn ""

Monday, May 22, 2017

Underrated '87 - Hal Horn

Hal Horn runs the irreplaceable Horn Section Blog ('reviewing the obscure, overlooked and sometimes the very old').

Also, check out his previous Film Discoveries lists for Rupert Pupkin Speaks:

On Twitter @halhorn86

I know this is one of Brian’s faves as well, and it just seems incredible to me that this very funny, very smart high school comedy didn’t even come close to cracking the yearly top 100 at the U.S. box office. (For the record, it was # 126, grossing only $3.7 million.) The closest we will get to a teenaged, modern HIGH NOON, THREE O’CLOCK HIGH was the debut feature from director Phil Joanou (STATE OF GRACE). Meek everyman Casey Siemasko runs afoul of tough new guy Richard Tyson, prompting a showdown at the titular time when school lets out. Soundtrack by Tangerine Dream, hilariously gruff performance by John P. Ryan (DEATH WISH 4) as the principal, who gets the funniest line with his encouraging words during the fight. What’s not to like? By all means check this one out if you haven’t already.
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History professor and ardent old West aficionado William Devane time travels back to the 1880’s (three years before Michael J. Fox would in BACK TO THE FUTURE III) with Lauren Hutton in tow to stop gunslinging psychopath Klaus Kinski. Made for TV fare made very likable by a great cast and fun direction by Michael Schultz (KRUSH GROOVE). The screen swan song for Horn Section patron saint Forrest Tucker, who plays “Texas” John Cody, an expert who helps Devane with a key bit of information and flirts with Hutton. (Who wouldn’t?) Also with John Ratzenberger and Tracey Walter.
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CAN’T BUY ME LOVE was a box office hit that has even been remade (LOVE DON’T COST A THING); Patrick Dempsey’s other 1987 comedy has been largely forgotten by time. Based on the true story of the “Woo Woo Kid”, Sonny Wisecarver (Dempsey), who created a national sensation in 1944 by having an affair with a married older woman (Talia Balsam) at age 14—and then did it again a year later with a second (Beverly D’Angelo). Wisecarver’s second paramour was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and I’m sure every teenaged boy of the era marveled at what a lucky (fill in the blank) Wisecarver was. The film is a bit slow, but has its laughs—certainly worth a look. Look for the real Wisecarver (then in his late fifties) in a cameo. Director Phil Alden Robinson went on to massive success with FIELD OF DREAMS two years later.
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Mark Harmon’s early stab at big screen stardom was something of a sleeper, actually finishing 32nd at the yearly box office (it even outgrossed CAN’T BUY ME LOVE!) and proving highly rewatchable on cable for three decades (and counting). Directed by Carl Reiner(!), who has an early cameo, SUMMER SCHOOL stars Harmon as a gym teacher suckered into teaching remedial English for the titular sessions. He can’t complain—his tenure is at stake. Kirstie Alley is his fellow teacher and love interest, Robin Thomas his competition (and foil), the Vice Principal, and Courtney Thorne-Smith one of his students. Mostly predictable, but surprisingly good laughs for the premise. This is what happens when some smart old pros take a stab at teen comedy—much like EUROTRIP would provide two decades later (but PG rated). Extra laughs for us cult film buffs, as TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is screened during one period.
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