Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Losin' It

(Curtis Hanson, 1983)
AKA "Porky's Goes West" - gaggle of horny teens goes and loses their virginity in Tijuana instead of the Everglades. Only damned if I didn't like this a little better than "Porky's" - the extremely familiar, extremely broad material is competently handled and, for the most part, inoffensive. Our heroes' juvenile quest is viewed at arms' length, and is disposed of by midfilm. The many Mexican stereotypes are relatively sympathetic and varied, even allowing a junkyard worker an articulate tirade against Yankee imperialism; standing in for Tijuana proper, Calexico CA does an eerie impersonation of a studio lot. The third act's surprisingly moody descent into various perils is scattered and imbalanced, but the tonal shift at least holds your attention, probably reflecting Hanson's creative priorities. But in the end the performers are front and center, and the film's fortunes rise and fall on their work. Deluded hipster Jackie Earle Haley shows genuine goofball verve, and his resourceful younger brother John P. Navin Jr. almost steals the movie wirh his cocky deadpan. John Stockwell as Spider, on the other hand, is a petulant energy vacuum; he looks pissed off that no one wrote him a character. And while Tom Cruise is mostly asked to stand there and look pretty, and Shelley Long's divorcee is her usual bundle of brittle mannerisms, their little romantic interlude is charming in its neurotic way.

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