The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - February 4, 1993 - Page 5
Classics in escapism
Give my regards to Broadway
by Jon Altshul
The phenomenon of "spring break"
as a recurrent motif in the films of the
mid-'80s is undeniable. Beginning in
1983 with the inane comedy "Spring
Break" and the classic teen flick "Risky
Business," Hollywood had stumbled
upon a goldmine of opportunity.
The classic spring break films de-
veloped their own identity - their own
"genre," shall we say. Complete with
leather jeans, feathered hair, and Duran
Duran tank tops, the pictures transcended
pedantic political squabbles and silly
philosophical theories, blossoming only
in a cesspool of semen and Clearasil.
They are invariably escapism com-
edies, held together by tireless road trips
and countless bikini straps. Always anti-
authoritarian they did for our genera-
tion as the beatniks did for our parents'.
These were the pictures that helped gel
and mold our own childhoods.
Ouradolescentassociations with this
genre are often as powerful as the films
themselves. How vividly I remember
standing awkwardly in the Deny Cin-
ema ticket line with my first date, Marcy
Allen, as the Vermont winds delved into
the snow banks outside. The film was
"The Sure Thing," directed by some
meathead named Rob Reiner. How I
loved this girl. Perhaps I would never
love another. Perhaps I would do well
on my next Pre-Algebra quiz. Silently,
I bought the tickets, bearing the sight of
elders who smiled at my apprehension.
We strolled into the theater arm-in-arm
as the coming attractions rolled.
Mid-way through the movie, Marcy
began togetpeevish, telling me she was
bored. I told her to shut up. I was too
engrossed in John Cusack's quest to
tend to her selfish worries. She slapped
me across the cheek and ran off crying
while TimRobbins and LisaJanePersky
sang show tunes. I stayed in the theater.
It was a wonderful picture.
Younger generations might point to
1985 as the watershed year for spring
break movies. Indeed, with the release
ofboth "The Sure Thing"and "Gotcha!,"
the industry was revolutionized.
But true connoisseurs of the genre
know that its origins lie as far back as
1960 with Henry Levin's "Where the
Boys Are." Moralistic, yet not without a
naive sense of charm, the picture charts
the vernal vacation of four college
women in desperate pursuit of men.
And though by all contemporary gauges
"Boys" is dated and perhaps a bit styl-
ized, its significance as aground-break-
ing epic cannot be disputed.
In the film, for example, we see the
origins of the quintessential staples of
the movement- under-aged drinking,
fornication, butt jokes, and unsanitized
bathrooms. Sure, unlike its successors,
the film is refreshingly bereft of gratu-
itous profanities and token nudity, but
with its abundant bikini close-ups and
body gags, Levin's story seems to be
announcing the arrival of a new genre.
Yet the seeds that the film fertilized
did not begin to germinate until much
later. Twenty-three years later in fact.
The early spring break films of the
1980's struggled to distinguish them-
selves. Often hidden behind the blanket
epithet of "teenage exploitation," and
unfairly linked with "Porky's" and the
so-called "brat pack," their candor was
further threatened by poor reviews. One
after another bombed at the box office,
and their extinction seemed imminent.
But two years later the genre was
resuscitated by the almost simultaneous
release of "The Sure Thing" and
"Gotcha!". They became timeless clas-
sics, as gripping and honest as they were
"The Sure Thing" was something of
a slap in the face to previous spring
break films. Filled with five and dime
philosophies and sincere moment of
self-mockery, Rob Reiner achieved the
unthinkable: a warm, inoffensive film
about a horny, beer-swilling freshman.
"Gotcha!", meanwhile, was the "The
Sure Thing's" action-packed counter-
part. Fast-paced and intense, the picture
charted the European vacation of two
collegekids from innocentpick-up lines
to the CIA and espionage.
Both films marked the arrival of two
of the most innovative "spring break"
actors in American cinematic history-
Continued from page 3
new musical, pulsating with "sin, sex
and self-deception" in a Havana night-
club; Duo Theater; 598-4320.
"Coed Prison Sluts: The Musical" I
don't want to touch this one; Trocadero
"Cute Boys in their Underpants Go
to France"A group of tine healthy young
men (stars of an "all-male skin flick")
go cavorting around gay Paris; Sanford
Meisner Theater; 206-1764.
So there are my recommendations
- pick and chose according to your
own taste, schedule and budget. As
much as I hate to contribute to the
commercialization of the theater, I rec-
ommend stopping by One Shubert Al-
ley, the complete Broadway memora-
bilia store to, as they say, "take home a
bit of Broadway."
For all of the Broadway shows, call
239-6200 for ticket info/reservations
(all phone numbers listed are area code
212). Irecommend that you wait to buy
tickets until you get to New York --
possibly with the exception of "Guys
andDolls," the toughest ticketonBroad-
way. There is a famous ticket booth on
Broadway called"TKTS" thatsells tick-
ets for half-price the day of a perfor-
mance. Also, check with the respective
box offices; many people return tickets,
and you may stumble upon some great
seats. Enjoy yourself-and when you're
there, don't forget to give my regards to
John Cusack and Anthony Edwards.
Indeed, Cusack and Edwards are the
DeNiro and Pacino of their generation.
Cusack, who had found moderate suc-
cess as a requisite geek in such early
treasures as "Class," and "Better Off
Dead," had no trouble adapting himself
to the dramatic demands of spring vaca-
tion. Always tettering on the edge of
over-acting and never without of his
signature middle part or anemic com-
plexion, he reminded audiences of a
young Mickey Rooney. After striking
gold with "The Sure Thing." Cusack
went on to star in another spring break
epic "Hot Pursuit." Though jumbled
and more complex than earlier vacation
pictures - the Caribbean replaced
Florida/California, for example, and
boats replaced cars - "Pursuit" marked
the last great installment in the genre.
The spring break genre of film ex-
ploded into our society like nothing
before it. Often confused with sexist
trash, the movies ultimately transcended
the disgusting muck from which they
originated. Though now resting in dor-
mancy, they are as inexplicably linked
to our lives as our friends and families.
These are the films that shaped our
generation. These are films of our youth.
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