Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spring Fever

(Joseph L. Scanlon, 1981)
The utter wrongness of this vanity vehicle for tennis prodigy Carling Bassett starts with a sun-and-surf sex comedy packaging job that fails to even mention Bassett's name. And the fraudulence continues with the casting of Bassett as a working-class underdog - mommy Susan Anton is an oppressed Vegas showgirl - when her real-life daddy produced the thing himself under the auspices of the family media conglomerate. Not that the writers don't get all excited about their critique - on the contrary, they depict the juvenile tennis circuit as such an unremitting cesspool of greed, graft, coke fiends, and outright child abuse that it's a wonder the morality squad doesn't have the entire league in the wagon by the second act. The climactic tennis match is beset with a desperate cascade of thefts, arrests and heart attacks, but nobody seems to have figured out how to shoot a damned tennis game - there's so much half-baked 'montage' that you barely see the ball hit the court. Jessica Walter's chain-smoking, hemorrhoidal bitch of a tennis mom is clearly meant to make the showgirl look good by comparison, but with her predilection for pursuing unrestrained free love in the room she shares with her 13-year-old, Anton doesn't come off much better - "Why do I have to be so stupid?" indeed.

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