I Saw A Film!
You’re just sitting there, watching little girls with big hair and marveling at Kim Richards’ perm, as James Spader’s riding around on his 10-speed and Robert Downey Jr. flips a blade in his face and everyone’s a smart-assed high school punk. You know the scene. And all of a sudden you’re watching Jim Carroll. No joke, this film stars Jim Carroll lip-syncing a couple of songs and faking guitar chops. No one told me! Then it’s back to Spader jumping up from sound sleep to shoot flies with his air pistols.
It’s mainly the usual kids complaining about their parents not loving them enough, and getting into weirdly homoerotic verbal challenges with one another. The girls ram sandwiches in one another’s party make-up and a primed Ford Maverick kind of out acts everyone.
The big scene is them crashing the rich kid party with the terrible music and the membership cards, though it’s hard to understand exactly what is meant to be the division between them that’s not based entirely on fashion. Downey and Spader are not exactly a chemistry that sparks off the screen, but they are still quite young and baby-faced. Somehow Spader’s thing is classic rock, and a lot goes on with a version of Green Onions that seems entirely out of place in an 80s homoerotic gym shower-beating sequence. Frankie’s (Kim) teen bedroom includes a nice PiL poster from the First Edition album, hard to imagine it’s a fave of hers. The social mismatch (or the apparent one they are trying to lay on us in this film) seems a bit bloodless and like an empty sack. It’s hard to imagine a woman really continuing a relationship with the leather-clad jackasses who follow her around and threaten her, but she still retreats from Spader’s smart respecting character. Hard to really figure this one out as it’s not a Romeo and Juliet mix up. Of course, a weird rescue happens with Morgan’s father coming to the aid of our damsel, and he gets shot by the main antagonist (the boyfriend who shouldn’t be, and while an emotive actor, hard to really believe as a villain). The tragedy leads to the consummation love-making in the Spader homestead.
Part II of the strange villain’s plans climax with Spader playing an action hero part in his black leather, rescuing sweet Frankie from the baddies he happens to go to high school with. It’s a bit of a film that didn’t quite know what it wanted to be. Spader’s Morgan comes across as bizarrely superior, especially in his action sequences. He was always better suited to moody roles like The Secretary watching him fist fight just feels odd, like if suddenly Jim Carroll also jumped off the stage and thwarted a robbery. Thankfully Richards saves the day by switching the rescue trop to her own rescue of her beau. It fails and gives Spader’s character time to recoup and rescue his damsel yet again. The chain of reverses on the couple’s rescues has to be a kind of unironic record as it doesn’t end there!
Freebie on Prime! Add to Downey’s long list of impressive achievements having played drums for Jim Carroll in a movie!
One thought on “Tuff Turf (1985)”
I may have said homoerotic a bit too much, but you’ll see what I mean. It’s a little amusing that Robert Downey Jr isn’t on the poster!