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May 31, 1980 - Image 8

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Michigan Daily, 1980-05-31

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Page 8-Saturday, May 31,1980-The Michigan Daily
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Putting sixties, nostalgia to rest

By ADAM KNEE
Floyd Mutrux's The Hollywood
Knights is probably the most blatant
and uninspired copy of Lucas'
American Graffiti made to date, its
disjointed plot dealing with the ac-
tivities of a Southern California neigh-
borhood gang (after whicl the film is
titled) on Ihloween night of 1965 and
moving along the same plot lines as its
forerunner. Mutrux also lifts certain
elements, even specific characters and
jokes, from National Lampoon's
popular film Animal House and its High
School Yearbook Parody, presumably to
add to his film's appeal. There are, for
example, the hazing/initiation of
pledges, the cheerleader-sans-
undergarments, and the fat, clumsy
class snob (and this time they make
him asthmatic for extra fun).
The Knights' hangout is Tubby's
Drive-in, the obligatory nostalgia-film
hamburger joint, which is to be closed

down after Halloween due to pressure
from community groups attempting to
disband. the gang. So, naturally the
gang wants to make this a night to
remember. The film is mostly com-
prised of whatever tasteless, not
especially amusing anarchistic pranks
the Knights decide to pull. For exam-
ple, they set afire a packet of dog ex-
crement in front of an administrator's
house, tricking him into stomping the
(lames out. They urinate in the punch
for the school dance. How original!
THAT ASPECT of the film makes a
joke out of Mutrux's poor attempts at
creating an atmosphere of nostalgia
and warmth. The actors themselves are
not professional enough to create the
illusion of being anything other than
contemporary youths having fun in a
cruddy commercial vehicle, so for
nostalgia we must depend on a

repetition ad nauseum of a couple of six-
ties phrases ("Real boss, man!"), on a
disc jockey's enigmatic repetitions of
the fact that the year is 1965, and on the
use of "period " tunes. Unfortunately,
the songs on the soundtrack are not
selected adroitly enough to have
anywhere near the emotional impact of
those in the Graffiti film. Why should
we be exhilarated over the pledges'
successful completion of their initiation
prank if the inappropriate "Heatwave"
is blaring over the sound system? Sim-,
ply slapping together a few sixties ar-
tifacts does not make for nostalgia.
Mutrux, who wrote the screenplay as
well as directing, includes a few sup-.
posedly emotionally-appealing subplots
to draw us into the film, to essay a
feeling of warmth. Yet these are
irretrievably shallow and contrived,
and the uniformly amateurish acting
impairs them further. Cursory charac-
terizations obliterate any chance of our
feeling for the young carhop who must
decide between her car-mechanic
boyfriend and her aspirations to star-
dom or for the Knight who is due to
leave for Vietnam the morning after
Halloween.
NOR ARE WE apt to get caught up in
the film's larger conflict, that between
the Knights and the establishment. As
the writer-director demonstrated in his
equally forgettable American Hot Wax,
he has a proclivity towards presenting
"good guys" and "bad guys" in uncom-
fortably stark black-and-white. This
grotesquely-portrayed school officials

are adulterous and malicious, while the
police patrol (one officer fat and loud,
the other skinny, effeminate, and vain)
passes the time picking on children and
threatening any potential disturbance.
The Knights, on the other hand, are a
good-natured bunch who always ap-
preciate a joke, be it picking on their
asthmatic freind or broadcasting
rhythmic flatulence over the public ad-
dress system at the high school pep
rally. Both sides in this fight are so
unappealing that it makes little dif-
ference who ultimately wins out.
The Hollywood Knights fails even as
simple, vulgar comedy. The jokes are
not funny in the least, many of them
based simply around the use of crude
language, others clumsily attempting
to derive humor from pain and sexual
problems. All of this vulgarity makes
for an extremely offensive movie
because it is so poorly conceived, so out
of place. Even the clearly-delineated
friendly father figures have a
vocabulary that is glaringly obscene.
Mutrux seems to have a rather one-
dimensional view of the tastes of
today's audiences.
Ultimately, then, the film is unsuc-
cessful on any level. Its creators blindly
threw together what they think might
be elements of a popular film; the
result is a work totally without in
tegration or integrity. But I feel a bit
silly discussing The Hollywood Knights
as art. It is clearly nothing other than
an economic venture, its advertising
campaign far more impressive than the
product itself.

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The Ann Arbor Film Cooperative Presents at MLB: $1.50
Saturday, May 31
RICHARD PRYOR- FILMED LIVE IN CONCERT
(Jeff Margolis, 1979 7 & 10:20-MLB 3
Funnier than a Steve Martin, faster than a Mork, more powerful than a Robert
Klein. Look! Up on the stage, it's Richard Pryor-Live in Concert. 80 minutes of
non-stop, hilarity, this film proves Pryor as the funniest stand-up comic to hit
the stage inyears. "His physical and verbal comic gifts range from expert mimic
and pantomimist to witty raconteur."-L.A. TIMES.
SILVER STREAK (Arthur Hiller, ,1976) 8:30-MLB3
GENE WILDER stars in this comedy thriller about a book editor who witnesses a
murder on the L.A.-New York super train and then becomes hunted by the
murderers and the cops. The film boasts Richard Pryor in superb comic form
and an elegant PATRIC McGOOHAN as the suavest villain since Basil Rathbone
and James Mason. Pryor giving Wilder lessons on how to act black to avoid the
cops is a classic scene in American comedy. With JILL CLAYBURGH.
Next Tuesday: The Who in THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT at Old Architecture
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