Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hang Tough

(Daryl Duke, 1981)
Duke tackles this coming-of-age nostalgia piece as though he were still directing "The Silent Partner". The relentlessly bad original score is desperate to generate drama, but there's never any payoff; every time the film allows us a fight or a fondle it's maddeningly interrupted by some third party. You can occasionally glimpse a smart script begging to be released from under the dead weight of the direction - for all the teen emotions on evidence, the rigid lifelessness of the blocking complements cinematography and editing which are visibly terrified of intimacy. Only Charlaine Woodard manages to fully connect through the veil of dead competency, and her interracial brief encounter with Carl Marotte is doomed to remain a tangential subplot. If they gave it any more focus they'd have to actually address some of the racial/social issues they raise instead of using them as wallpaper. Woodard's brother Grand Bush is on duty to teach fraidy cat Marotte to walk like a man and give him a gun, but when the bully comes after him in the big climax he runs like a chicken as before, and then suddenly he's throwing punches like a welterweight; so who taught him to do that? It's that kind of movie.

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