Monday, July 26, 2010

Pick-Up Summer

(George Mihalka, 1980)
They changed the name, but at least they didn't change the theme - "Pinball Summer" is typical of a Brian-Wilson-meets-Rupert-Holmes soundtrack that is as catchy and competent as it is obnoxious. Kind of like the movie itself. The broad smuttiness is executed with a fair degree of technical finesse, adding an extra half-dimension to the prototypical 80s comedy of sexual cruelty: the fat kid named "Whimpy" undergoes a moral awakening, the biker dude turns out to be a closet nebbish, and the obligatory nerd is actually a rich twat who pretty much deserves the treatment he gets. No such complications among the main protagonists, two blow-dried nonentities who are as bland as they are irritating plus girlfriends with camera-friendly asses. You really don't care to see these people pitching woo on the beach or driving their customized van around town. The chase scenes get old fast, but the pinball showdown at the end is more engaging than you'd expect, and the way the drive-in movie echoes the idiocies of the main narrative is a genuinely inspired touch. Which is not to say that this is anything more than a barely watchable piece of sexist garbage, but for what it's worth its makers do seem to have their eye in the viewfinder most of the time.

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