Tag Archives: Scott Baio

Foxes (1980)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Growing up too fast.

Four teenagers living in the San Fernando Valley face life in the fast lane. Madge (Marilyn Kagan) is the nerd who’s having a fling with a 30-year-old man (Randy Quaid). Deidre (Kandice Stroh) shifts from boyfriend to boyfriend while Annie (Cherrie Currie) is tormented by an abusive father and runs away from home only to get caught up in the drug scene. Jeanie (Jodie Foster) is the mature one of the bunch who tries to keep them from getting into too much trouble as well as getting them out of a jam when needed, but she has struggles of her own particularly dealing with her mother (Sally Kellerman) who brings home men who are virtual strangers to spend the night with and seems as lost and confused as Jeanie’s teen friends.

This marked Adrian Lyne’s feature film debut and from a purely cinematic perspective it’s intriguing. I liked the cinema vertite feel and in many ways this is an early forerunner to Larry Clarke’s groundbreaking Kids that came out 15 years later as the camera follows the teens around on their excursions without having any connected storyline nor does it try to make any moral judgement on what occurs. Instead it plays more like docudrama showing how things are without overdoing the shock value, but what I liked best was the fact that it portrays the adults as being just as screwed up and in certain ways even more lost while society at large is captured as being equally jaded to the point that the teens are simply reflecting the behaviors of the environment around them.

Probably the most surprising aspect is the part dealing with Madge, who is still in high school, having an ongoing relationship with a 30-year-old man, which the film treats as being no big deal. It’s not completely clear if Madge is 17 or 18, but many of today’s viewers will find the casual way the film approaches this topic, which includes an eventual wedding between the two that is happily attended by her friends, as being  ‘creepy’ and most likely a taboo storyline for any film made today.

The irony is that Madge ends up causing the most destruction in the relationship as Quaid’s character unwisely goes away on a business trip and allows her complete use of his place where she then decides to hold a party that gets expectedly out-of-control. It even includes a graphic fight breaking out that is portrayed quite brutally including having a girl hit and knocked down by another guy. This scene also features Laura Dern, in her first credited film role and wearing braces and glasses, as an awkward teen that crashes the place.

The casting of Foster and Scott Baio as her guy friend is interesting as the two had starred in quirky gangster comedy Bugsy Malone just 4 years earlier and the scene where the two have an ongoing conversation while walking around in a large, open junkyard is one of the best parts of the movie. Baio is initially fun as this geeky teen with limited social skills, but later on becomes this mini-hero with on a skateboard that gets too cute and Hollywood-like. Foster on the other hand is solid and it’s interesting seeing her playing a more emotionally vulnerable character and even at one point breaking down and crying.

The film manages to have a few interesting scenes here and there, but it takes too long to build any momentum and it’s never as compelling as it would like to be. There are also a few too many moments where it defaults to the contrived clichés, which hurts its efforts at gritty realism.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: February 29, 1980

Runtime: 1Hour 46Minutes

Rated R

Director: Adrian Lyne

Studio: United Artists

Available: DVD, Blu-ray

Zapped! (1982)

zapped

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: Teen acquires telekinetic powers.

Barney (Scott Baio) is a high school nerd who spends more time in the science lab than socializing with friends. During one of his experiments he accidently acquires an ability to move things using telepathic powers. His powers impress fellow teen Bernadette (Felice Schachter) and the two fall in-love…and that’s about it.

One of the biggest problems of this horrible teen comedy is that there is no discernable plot. Yes, we have a teen acquiring some amazing powers, but the script does nothing with it. The tricks that he does are minimal and there is no real bad guy, tension, or even basic story just some broadly ‘comical’ scenarios instead. The premise reminded me of one of those old Disney movies with Kurt Russell playing college kid Dexter Riley who would somehow attain similarity extraordinary powers, but those movies at least had Cesar Romero as a fun bad guy and even on a subpar level were far funnier and more entertaining than this.

I think what really bugs me about this movie is that you have some nudity and crude jokes, which would clearly aim it for an older audience and yet the humor is incredibly kiddie-like stuff that could only amuse your basic 4-year-old and be lame to everybody else. The brief bits of nudity that you do see do not make sitting through this inane thing worth it. You also get treated to not one, but two sappy 70’s-style love songs that could easily make most people want to puke.

Baio has no screen presence or ability to carry a movie and it is easy to see why he went right back to doing TV-sitcoms after this. The way he politely puts up with his over-the-top intrusive parents (Roger Bowen, Marya Small) is pathetic. Most films of this type always portray the mom and dad as being ‘uptight’ and ‘out-of-it’, but this one plays it up too much until it becomes just plain dumb.

I will say that Heather Thomas is hot here. Really, really hot both with her clothes on and off and simply eyeing her in every scene that she is in helps in a minor way get through the stupidity. Sue Ann Langdon is attractive in the ‘milf’ category and she is the only one of the cast members to appear in the film’s 1990 direct-to-video sequel Zapped Again!.

The Exorcist parody and the Carrie prom-like disaster that occurs at the end is mildly amusing enough to give this embarrassment one point, but otherwise this film gives the already low-grade genre of 80’s teen comedies a bad name. In fact I would consider this to be the worst out of all of them.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: July 23, 1982

Runtime: 1Hour 38Minutes

Rated R

Director: Robert J. Rosenthal

Studio: Embassy Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD