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September 22, 1987 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-09-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

4

Page 8 -The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, September 22, 1987
Belushi saves

Principal'

from mediocrity

By John Shea
Imagine you are a reel of film.
You're not a great film, but you're
not a bad one, and you're just about
to open in theatres around the
country. You want fanfare. Big
hoopla.With streams of red carpet
and champagne at the premier.
Maybe it will hide your faults for a
while, and if you're lucky enough to
get a "thumbs up" from Siskel &
Ebert, people might come and see
you. They might like you.
But... if you're The Principal,
Tri-Star Pictures' latest effort, you
find that there is no champagne. No
hype and no backing. You open
quietly in a few theatres around the
country, lost in a sea of titles at
shopping malls. You are lonely.
And then, in a couple of weeks, your
run is over. You are dead.
I'm sorry. I kind of liked you, in
spite of your faults. So, consider
this an eulogy of sorts. You deserved
better because your intentions were
so good.
The Principal is something of a
morality play. It stars James Belushi
as Rick Latimer, a hard-assed,
down-on-his-luck school teacher
who has brought nothing but pain to
the lives he has touched; his wife is
divorcing him and the suburban high

school where he teaches has seen
enough of him, too.
The school board gives him a
choice: quit, or take over the.
principal position at Brandel High;
It's not much of a glamour job; the
school is run down, drugs and
gangland intimidation is rampant,
and the faculty's major concern is
getting out alive at the end of the
day. Brandel, they say, is a place
"where the garbage never leaves the
dump."
With the help of security officer
Jake Phillips (Louis Gossett, Jr.)
and teacher Hilary Orozco (Rae
Dawn Chong), Rick tries to turn the
school around. But he has to deal
with resistance from the students and
especially gang leader Victor Duncan
(Michael Wright), who is determined
to see things remain status quo.
Nobody likes to go the movies to
hear a 90-minute lecture. Director
Christopher Cain and screenwriter
Frank Deese dangerously tread water
on this issue. Yet, while feeding us
social commentary by the
tablespoon, they focus sharply on
Belushi's character. Good idea.
Belushi really delivers in his first
dramatic role, showing a remarkable
sensitivity to the material. He forces
us to take the premise seriously, to
not discard it merely as a some sort
of cruel joke disguised by good
intentions. If he conjures up the
image of the red train trying to chug

up that hill, he's not saying to
himself, "I think I can," but "I hope
I can." There is a major difference
between the two; we sense
desperation, not cockiness.
Belushi manages to hold this film
together. He makes it work.
What prevents this film from
being any better is the lack of a
strong supporting cast. Lou Gossett,
Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman) is
credible as the security officer but is
given little to do. Rae Dawn Chong
is a walking cliche as the teacher
who becomes a "victim of the
system" and so are various
assortments of punks who roam the
hallways.
Also lacking is better direction by
Cain and a more solid script by
Deese. Cain builds suspense by
taking the camera for a long walk
down a dark corridor; Deese's
characterizations are- just as stale.
And just when the two of them work
hard enough to create a gritty tone
and feel, they destroy what they've
accomplished with a few ill-timed
jokes.
This is very unfortunate, and
often that's all it takes to kill a
movie. A little lack of continuity
here, a little lack of originality there,
and that's it. Admirable ambitions
indeed, but when you try and make a
film that is part commercial and part
public service announcement, you
end up in Video Heaven awfully fast.

James Belushi (center) breaks up a fight between two opposing gang members in 'The Principal.'

Records

4

1

The Junk Monkeys
Firehouse
Happy Face
The wait is over. The Junk

Monkeys are heirs apparent to the
Motor-city hard-rock throne that has
harbored The Amboy Dukes, Blue
Cheer, The MC5, The Stooges, and
Alice Cooper. The Monkeys recall
the balls-out thunder of all of these
acts, not to mention 'Smith and

Show how you feel with ...
Michigan Daily Personals
764-0557

Zep, but infuse the kicked-out jams
with a latter-day punch that drives
them from the land of the dinosaurs.
This is rock 'n' roll for believers,
for people who want to feel it as
well as hear it. While Firehouse
doesn't fully capture the sonic boom
of live Junk Monkeys, the record is
about seven-ninths of the way there,
which is high praise, as eight-ninths
is the top of the scale, and four to
five-ninths is average for Detroit
bands. This record is too big for
Detroit.
The Junk Monkeys have been
together, under a couple of names for
several years now, and t h e

familiarity has bred power. Bassist
Kevin Perri and drummer Dan Allen
are solid both individually, and as a
team, laying down rock-solid
foundations interspersed with subtle
flourishes. Lead guitarist Dave
Boutette and lead-vocalist and
guitarist David Bierman interlock,
crash, slash, and burn like tag-team
wrestlers. Bierman's vocals are
smack dab in the Detroit
tradition-and distinctive without
being derivative.
But beyond all these qualities, it
is the group's songwriting which
distinguishes them. The chords are
familiar, the structures are far from

innovative, and yet these are new
songs, never betraying their
geneology. The lyrics are personal,
and gutty. When Bierman confesses
that he'd rather "be daydreaming
anywhere with you," it becomes a
demand. "Lookin' For Fun" is a
pleasure-seekers anthem, featuring a
killer moment in which two
Monkeys mumble "I'm ju s t
lookin'..."

I'm not looking anymore.
Firehouse is it. A great Detroit band
with solid production, strong
songwriting, and the smarts to do a
terrific EP, rather than padding
-things into a good album. Firehou; e
sounds like four guys grabbing for
everything, and they deserve a large
portion thereof.
-John Logie

. k

Film stresses safe

sex

As aMarine Officer, youcouldbe in charge of a
Mach 2+ F/A-18A, avertical take-off Harrier or
one of our other jets or helicopters. And you could
doitbythetime you're 23. But it takes aspecial
commiment on your part We
demand leaders at alllevels.
We teach you to be one. lfyou're

a freshman or sophomore, ask about our under-
graduate officer commissioning programs. If you're a
junior, check out our graduate programs. Starting
salaries are from $19,000 to $24,000. And
you can count on
going farther...faster.
""ESZieD We'rngfrafewdmm

(Cortinued from Page 7)
your clothes on, it's okay to use a
rubber."
To its credit, Condom Sense can
be a valuable - and not
embarrassing - resource for
unknowing students to find out how
to put condoms on or what type of
condoms to buy. Thoughcertainly
liberal in its presentation of
premarital sex, the film does present
a somewhat disturbing pattern of
women having to beg their lovers to
use condoms. Some males in
Condom Sense at first seem ready
to give up sex altogether rather than
use a rubber.
Clearly aimed at the high school-

age set, Condom Sense is low-key
enough to avoid criticism lout
explicit enough to be honest and
sincere. But the one "celebrity"
testimonial from Jefferson Starship
guitarist- Craig Chaquico was
probably not aimed at University
students.
"Yeah, I use condoms," Chaquico
drones, nodding his head earnestly.
If successful, Condom Sense
will change negative campus
attitudes towards condoms. Itsis
doubtful, however, that ChaquicO's
words will provide the final
encouragement. But who knovws?
Besides, that theme song sort of
grows on you...

HALLOWEEN HOME

mass meeting

COMING.
.3
7:30
SUNION

SEPTEMBER 22, 23,-
UAC OFFICES
2ND FLOOR MICHIGAN

I.

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