Tag Archives: Colleen Camp

They All Laughed (1981)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Audrey Hepburn’s last movie.

Three male detectives (Ben Gazzara, John Ritter, Blaine Novak) follow around two beautiful ladies (Dorothy Stratten, Audrey Hepburn) whose husbands think are being unfaithful. The detectives have been hired to keep tabs on them, but in the process end up falling for them and then try to somehow get their attention without giving away why they are there.

The film has a nice casual pace that helps bring out its rather eccentric tone. The on-location shooting of New York is outstanding. It’s one thing to show the viewer a bird’s eye view of the skyline, but another to take them onto the city streets and inside all the different shops, from bookstores to museums, while giving them a very real sense that they are going inside these places along with the characters as it picks up the inside ambience quite nicely.

The problem though is that there is no story. The first thirty minutes deals with these men following the women around, but it is not clear why they are doing it and the script’s evasiveness becomes off-putting. There’s no beginning, middle or end, or even any conflict. Just a flat, breezy tale of some cardboard characters having brief flings and that’s it. 2-hours of your time have now just been saved.

The interesting cast allows for some diversion, but even that’s not enough. This is mostly known as being Dorothy Stratten’s last movie as she was murdered before the film was released. However, I was much more impressed with Patti Hansen, who plays a cab driver and has since 1983 been the wife of Keith Richards. I was taken in not only by her stunning beauty, but her relaxed composure in front of the camera. She displays a wonderfully effervescent smile and a laid back persona that doesn’t get intimidated at all by the big name stars around her. If there was one person I wanted the film to be built around it was her and was disappointed it wasn’t.

Stratten on the other hand is not as good-looking and displays all the expected qualities of a model that has no formal acting training as she conveys stiffness as well as a one-note delivery. Her character seems too young to be married to the man that she is and overall I felt the only reason she got cast is because director Peter Bogdanovich was thinking through his penis instead of his head.

Gazzara and Ritter are weak too. They’ve done some good work in other projects, but not here. Gazzara is particularly annoying as his face seems frozen with this leering grinning expression that just never goes away. Ritter plays a bumbling version of his Jack Tripper character and while some of those antics were amusing on ‘Three’s a Company, here they quickly become stale.

Hepburn is the film’s only bright spot and this is considered to be her last theatrical feature as she had just a cameo appearance in Always, but she doesn’t really appear until the second hour and most of the time is seen wearing big bulky dark glasses that almost completely cover-up her face.

Colleen Camp has a few enjoyable snarky moments in a part that was apparently written expressly for her, but she says the name of Ritter’s character, which is Charles, way too much. Most screenwriting instructors will tell you not to have dialogue that reiterates the names of the characters as people normally don’t speak that way in their regular everyday conversations and yet here Camp says ‘Charles’ in an almost repetitive fashion to the point that it gets distracting. I didn’t count how many times she said it during her conversation with him inside a store, but I did start counting when she brought him back to her apartment and during that brief four minutes she says it 29 times. If this was meant to be some sort of joke then it’s a pointless one and if not then Bogdanovich needs to take a course in screenwriting or at least learn how to write a script where something actually happens in it and not just filled with redundant dialogue.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: November 20, 1981

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Peter Bogdanovich

Studio: Moon Pictures

Available: DVD

Valley Girl (1983)

valley girl

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Like totally, for sure.

Julie (Deborah Foreman) is a popular teen who is attracted to Randy (Nicholas Cage) who is not a part of her snotty clique. Stacey (Heidi Holicker) and Suzi (Michelle Meyrink) are her friends who want her to go back to dating the two-timing Tommy (Michael Bowen) even though she gets along with Randy far better. Her hippie parents (Frederic Forrest, Colleen Camp) aren’t sure what advice to give her, so she’s forced to choose between her friends and true-love while being threatened with ostracism if she goes out with the ‘wrong guy’.

The film was inspired by the Frank Zappa song, which is far funnier than anything that goes on here. The song had Zappa’s 14-year-old daughter Moon Unit putting on a fake southern California accent and speaking in a valley-speak lingo, which was right on-target. Here though we don’t get any of that. The girls only do the valley-speak thing at the very beginning and then it’s dropped and becomes just a pedestrian story of ordinary teens doing very ordinary teen-like things.

To me a valley girl represented a rich, plastic, entitled teen insulated from real-world issues who charged their Daddy’s credit card like it was a hobby and felt they were ‘too cool’ to work and more concerned with the latest teen fashions than anything else and yet the lead character here doesn’t represent any of this and in fact is the complete opposite.

The cast is also way too old for their roles. Foreman was already 21 and Bowen was 30! In fact none of the lead cast is of the right age range for their characters and making it look much more like college students or even young adults than high school. The party scenes are lame with the kids dancing like zombies moving their bodies in a robotic fashion with no sense or feel to the music or beat. The whole thing lacks hipness and comes off like a mild, sanitized concoction created by middle-aged adults far removed from the teen scene and unable to recreate it in any effective type of way.

Forrest and Camp are mildly amusing as the parents, but aging hippies running some backwoods type health food store probably wouldn’t be able to afford living in the valley let alone getting along with their more elitist neighbors. I was also disappointed that the Lee Purcell character just disappears without any denouncement. She plays Suzie’s very hot-looking mother, and with the possible exception of Foreman is quite easily the best looking member of the cast, who comes-on to one of her daughter’s guy friends (David Ensor) only to later catch the two in bed together, but what should’ve been a funny and lively confrontation and aftermath never gets addressed, which is a letdown.

On a purely romantic level the film could be considered ‘cute’ and the soundtrack has some cool tunes, but the story lacks oomph and fails to take advantage of the true valley girl persona ending up seeming more like just a mild ‘80s update of Gidget instead.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: April 29, 1983

Runtime: 1Hour 39Minutes

Rated R

Director: Martha Coolidge

Studio: Atlantic Releasing Corporation

Available: DVD

Joy of Sex (1984)

joy of sex 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Teens can’t get laid.

This film will kick off a month long theme where every Monday we’ll review an 80’s film that has the word sex in the title. The title to this one was purchased by Paramount from a sex manual written by Alex Comfort. The studio was so convinced that the title alone would create a box office buzz that they hired two writers to write a story around it only after the rights to the title had been secured. The plot deals with Leslie (Michelle Meyrink) a teen that reads an article about skin cancer and is convinced that the mole on her chest is a melanoma. Despite the fact that her Dr. says it isn’t she still believes that she is dying and goes on a crusade to lose her virginity before she does, but with little luck.

Although the movie has received almost unanimously negative reviews including a ‘bomb’ rating by Leonard Maltin I was surprised to find that the first 20 minutes or so is actually quite engaging. Some of the humor is kind of funny including the running joke of a ‘krazy glue bandit’ who terrorizes the administrators of the school by gluing all sorts of weird things on objects including coffee cups on the breasts of an outside statue, Mr. Potato heads to trophies inside a trophy case and a dildo inside the mouth of a fish that is the school mascot. There is also Farouk (Danton Stone) an early version of Borat who misunderstands American customs for instance when someone asks him to ‘give me five’ he hands him a five dollar bill and some of the thoughts that Leslie has while she makes out with a guy in a car are also pretty funny.

Where the film goes wrong is that it is just too damn innocuous. There is no tension, edge, or conflict. The majority of the movie deals more with Allen (Cameron Dye) and his inability to get laid instead of Leslie. The teen characters are one-dimensional and their adult counterparts come-off as staid, stiff, and out-of-touch. What is worse is that the film spends the entire time talking about sex, much of which is not very clever or interesting, but then never shows any of it. There isn’t even any nudity, which may be because the film was directed by a woman which may please the feminists, but as a guy if I’m expected to sit through something as vapid as this I would at least like a little T&A to help carry me through.

Meyrink is terrific and the one good thing about the movie. She is the only character that comes off as a real person and her nerdette caricature is a delight. Christopher Lloyd who plays her high school coach father over does it by delivering all of his lines in a drill sergeant-like manner that eventually becomes annoying. I also didn’t care for Colleen Camp who plays an undercover cop posing as a student. She was thirty at the time and looked it and I think the other students would have realistically thought the same thing. She also has a protruding mole on her right cheek that looks like a big pimple.

I did like Paul Tulley as Ted Vinson a crusading news reporter who expounds on all of society’s ills. Leslie meets with him because she thinks he can use his influence to get her friend Sharon (Cristen Kauffman) back in school after being kicked out for being pregnant, but instead finds that he simply is interested in having sex with her. This reminded me of former Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene who would write a lot of whiny, sappy, overwrought columns about society’s perceived moral decay only to end up being caught in a sex scandal himself.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: August 3, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 33Minutes

Rated R

Director: Martha Coolidge

Studio: Paramount

Available: VHS, Amazon Instant Video