Firstborn (1984)

first born 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Mom’s shitty new boyfriend.

Wendy (Teri Garr) is a divorced mother living with her two teenaged sons Jake (Christopher Collet) and Brian (Corey Haim in his film debut). She begins to feel lonely and insecure when her ex Alan (Richard Brandon) finds another woman and gets remarried. On the rebound she latches onto Sam (Peter Weller) a drifter who can’t seem to hold down a job and deals drugs on the side. He moves in and begins an antagonistic relationship with older son Jake that spirals out-of-control and turns the once peaceful household into a war zone.

I liked the realism particularly the way the anger and animosity come to a head slowly. The characters and dialogue are believable and the film portrays teenagers far more accurately than most other ‘80s flicks. The violent confrontation at the end is exciting, but in some ways I found the way Jake locks horns with his equally bullying English teacher Mr.  Rader (James Harper) as being just as compelling if not more.

On the negative end the plot is by-the-numbers and does not offer any twist or interesting added angle. The characters don’t grow or change and the film lacks a much needed denouncement where we could’ve seen how the ordeal helped them evolve as a family.

Garr is perfectly cast as a vulnerable character and the idea of a lonely divorcee finding someone on the rebound while conveniently ignoring the red flags until it is too late happens quite a lot. Collet is tolerable, but gets out shined by his younger costars including Sarah Jessica Parker as his girlfriend and Robert Downey Jr. as his school chum as well as Haim who clearly display more on-camera charisma and show why they all ended up with the longer, more memorable careers.

corey haim

sarah jessica 2

Weller is convincing as the heavy, but the film is one-dimensional and fails to offer any insight. If you want to catch this simply to see the young stars before they were famous then it will be a fun flick despite the subject matter, but overall it’s nothing special and has an atrocious music score.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: October 26, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Rated: PG-13

Director: Michael Apted

Studio: Paramount

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray

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