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the last american teen movie
the donger need food
by jonas foster
3.9.01
film


I have stood face to face with evil. And evil, thy name is Freddie Prinze Jr.

I recently took it upon myself to screen an all-day, self-packaged, Angst n' Hormone marathon. My agenda included:

One classic: The quirky, wonderful, and oft-overlooked Better Off Dead.

One study in the erosion of farce: A very emotional and painful Revenge of the Nerds I, II, III, and (didn't even know this existed) IV (Nerds in Love - Booger gets married - hilarity ensues - funnier than II and III in a conventional way - less funny than III in an unintentional way.)

One newcomer: The demographically named She's All That.

OK. Here's the truth. I'm behind on a contracted "teen romp" screenplay. Way behind. Studio-goons-at-my-door behind. And all this pressure has reduced me to a screen-saver staring, phone-ducking, underwear-clad couch lump. I can only thank TNT, Comedy Central, and Bravo for providing me with this veritable cornucopia of mind-numbing entertainment disguised as R&D.

Here's what I learned:

1) Your evilest guy MUST be white, blonde, privileged, and a jock

Stalin, Stan Gable, and the standard issue meathead from All That (I didn't bother to learn his name), were all WASP poster children. As a WASP and a jock, this offends me. I blame the Karate Kid bad guy, the original baby Nazi, for setting a trend that has given a bad name to blonde, blue-eyed jocks everywhere. Well, partly that and partly because it's true. Most of my friends were real assholes.

2) You can't waste Booger

Booger appeared in 10 of the 12 hours worth of my test programming. This means something. Booger got more screen time than any other single actor, and was one of only three characters resurrected for all four Nerds movies (and by far the most interesting one. I mean, Lamar lost anything he had in the PC late '80s.)

Reason? I don't know. But does anyone know if this guy is still available? I'm going to write a part just for him... unless he's dead or something.

3) The overlooked good hottie is always somehow better looking than the evil hottie, even through the good hottie's shy, reserved exterior.

Except for Monique and Beth in Better Off. Beth is way hot and I'd like to take her out sometime.

In All That, the good hottie didn't have to do much to go from lame to fame - a little like Superman and his idiot Clark Kent glasses. And considering the entire plot of the movie circled around her becoming prom queen under auspicious circumstances, the casting department might have done a better job finding a heroine who needed a makeover to be attractive. Like Molly Ringwald.

Monique was never supposed to be ugly, her problem was that she was French.

And is there a single good reason why Courtney Thorne-Smith didn't appear topless in Revenge of the Nerds II? They were Nerds in Paradise, for Pete's sake, and she wasn't quite famous enough at that point to demand a nudity clause.

4) Taylor Negron is the cameo king

He was the pizza delivery boy in the classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He was the Hendrix-digging, letter-dropping, Beth-suitoring mailman in Better Off. I don't remember ever seeing him in anything else.

5) Never, ever, ever, ever have a staged musical number

One constant in each brand of film was the misplaced, ill-advised, Fame Era song and/or dance. Especially irony-free and particularly maddening was the intricately choreographed group prom dance in All That. I mean, what the fuck? Is it meant to be choreographed? Are we, without warning, stepping out of the script for a moment? Do kids just sort of do this kind of thing now? No fucking wonder it's so tough to be a kid today.

And who the hell runs for prom queen?

And why did Freddie Prinze Jr.'s character deserve redemption?

In conclusion, let me export this. The largest difference between yesterday's teen movies and today's teen movies is the aforementioned lack of irony. Today's John Hughes is six different writers with a fifty-million-dollar budget and guest appearances by Usher.

I guess, in this brave new world, there's no room for a Little Ricky -

- running down the hallway at the dance with, inexplicably, a balloon.
- or stealing Monique's ding-dong.
- or fencing Lane with ski poles.

Those were teen movie moments. Something tells me this screenplay I've got to write will be in turnaround for a long, long time.


ABOUT JONAS FOSTER

Having spent most of the eighties in and out of various colleges, Jonas Foster ducked the 9 to 5, wrote a book, and then made a mint selling the right information to the right people. He once dated a supermodel, although he refuses to offer which one, and now habitually combs Manhattan in search of the next.

more about jonas foster




COMMENTS

jack bradley
3.9.01 @ 12:38a

Monique was French?

Well, that just changes the whole movie for me...


adam kraemer
3.9.01 @ 9:25a

Okay. I can answer a bunch of those questions. a) Curtis "Booger" Armstrong (who, by the way, was also Herbert Viola in "Moonlighting") is still alive. He was supposed to be in Shanghai Noon, but his scenes were cut. Go for it, man. Look what being in a teen movie did for Eugene Levy's career. b) I'd argue that Animal House created the WASP as antagonist paradigm. c) Taylor Negron was in a terribly under-appreciated 80's romp called Young Doctor's In Love.

adam kraemer
3.9.01 @ 9:32a

The movie starred, among others, Sean Young, Michael McKeown, Harry Dean Stanton, Dabney Coleman, and Michael Richards. See it - it's funny. d) Want slight irony in a teen movie? Check out 10 Things I Hate About You. This is a film that doesn't really take itself seriously. Very witty, for the genre. e) It's gonna be tough to beat American Pie. f) The girl who played Monique isn't actually French. I saw her in some other 80's teen movie, but I don't remember what it was called. I do remember that it had an unhappy ending, strangely.
Hope that helps.

adam kraemer
3.9.01 @ 9:37a

Oh, and news from IMDB - Curtis Armstrong's first role was in Risky Business. Talk about a seminal 80s actor.

joe procopio
3.9.01 @ 12:33p

If I'm not mistaken, Monique was also in The Last American Virgin. Title of the column tipped me off.

jael mchenry
3.9.01 @ 1:34p

I had to check IMDB to be sure, but it's true: Taylor Negron also played a mailman in one of my personal faves from the classic age of teen movies: "How I Got Into College."

adam kraemer
3.9.01 @ 2:43p

Monique (Diane Franklin) was also one of the princesses in "Bill and Ted".

Actually, Jael, I think you watched part of Young Doctors in Love with us one night. If you're not nice to me, I'll tell everyone why you left early.


jael mchenry
3.9.01 @ 3:47p

Okay, dear dear dear Adam, I don't actually remember why it was, but I suspect the threat is neither empty nor idle. The check's in the mail.

Was it Furley-related?


jeffrey walker
3.10.01 @ 3:26p

The anti-hero has to be a WASP, because any other person in the bad guy role will get some type of backlash from some PC organization. P.S. - I always hated the dance scene in "She's all that" -- but Rachel Leigh Cook can take me to a dumb performance art show anytime.

What is IMDB?


adam kraemer
3.12.01 @ 9:55a

Ummm...yes. Definitely Furley related.

IMDB is the Internet Movie DataBase. Possibly the most useful site on the Web, if you're at all interested in movies or TV. Seriously, www.imdb.com if you want to know about the cast of something (how many members of the cast of "Just the 10 of US" were in at least one of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, for example) check it out.


jael mchenry
3.12.01 @ 11:53a

IMDB also saves your brain from the "where have I seen that guy" obsession, by providing the answer. Some of their TV stuff isn't updated frequently enough, however, so I'm still wondering who that guy was who played Benny in last week's episode of "Once and Again."

joe procopio
3.15.01 @ 1:59a

I just saw Booger in Risky Business. What the hell happened to him after that movie? It's like he got that one role and then did all the drugs and drank all the booze.

Taylor Negron is also in Punch Line for about five minutes.

tracey kelley
3.16.01 @ 6:50p

tease...after the subhead I was all set for a "Sixteen Candles" lovefest.

"AAAHUTOmobile?"

I saw Booger recently on TBS' "Dinner and a Movie" when they were featuring a Cusak film fest. Booger, unlike some of us, hasn't changed in 17 years.

So maybe he only drank some of the booze and did some of the drugs.


mike julianelle
3.22.01 @ 9:27a

A few comments here: Good point with the WASP-villain angle...I always wondered about that ridiculous dance scene too...and the WASP in All That is named Paul Walker, also in Varsity Blues and he almost got the Anakin role, but was considered too old...another thing I noticed about The Karate Kid - a classic, btw - is that it's interesting to catch how Johnny's drug use - rolling a joint in the bathroom - is used to make him even more evil. In the 80's "Just Say No" Reagan Era, marijuana/drug use was used as a little side note to increase the bad guy's badness. Now, in the 90s teen films, the drug thing has gotten back to being romanticized, or at least accepted, and many a main character dabbles in drug use(Clueless, Can't Hardly Wait - tho most scenes were cut)...

adam kraemer
3.22.01 @ 9:40a

I really like the idea of the crying drunk girl in "Can't Hardly Wait." I was fairly disappointed when I heard they had to cut all her scenes.

joe procopio
3.22.01 @ 11:18a

Winners don't use drugs.



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