Thursday, 24 July 2014

LORI LOUGHLIN & “SECRET ADMIRER” (1985)

 
Krista Errickson in LITTLE DARLINGS wasn’t the only one who stroked my fancy during my quest for beauty when I was a teen.  Lori Loughlin (currently in WHEN CALLS THE HEART on the Hallmark channel) quickly came into the picture as well.  I think the first time I ever saw her was on the now-defunct daytime soap THE EDGE OF NIGHT which, if I remember correctly, was always struggling in the ratings back in the early ‘80s.  But how gorgeous was she even then?!  That face, that hair.   She truly was the epitome of the perfect girl—in my eyes anyway.   I’m sure if you talked to her in those days she’d humbly say how incorrect I was.  But boy, what a looker she was.  Anyway, after that soap went off the air, nothing major in her court until she was cast in the campy 1983 horror AMITYVILLE 3-D, playing the first girl who gets it.  I was kind of bummed by her quick demise but at least I got to see her in something else and in 3-D no less.  But a better role came her way two years later in the lovable teen comedy SECRET ADMIRER.  It featured a bunch of talented actors, some seasoned, some younger, but starred C. Thomas Howell who was a big thing to female teens (and to some males, I’m sure) back then.

In it Loughlin plays Toni, the girl next door type who has a secret crush on Howell.  Her anonymous love letter to him sets off a chain of events that make SECRET ADMIRER a fun if totally fluffy experience.  What I liked most about this film, besides connecting with the plot, is the staying power of Loughlin.  She isn’t tossed aside after her triggered mishap, which could have been easily made by director David Greenwalt (who subsequently ended up on GRIMM’s doorstep on ABC).  No, the script calls for her to embark even further into this comedy of errors and the result is quite engaging, I’m telling you. That is, if you can put aside the silly teen male bonding subplot.  How tiresome is that.   But, hey, this type of flicks were a dime a dozen in those days, not to mention specifically aimed at adolescent males with a high dose of libido.  Some were truly effective (FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, CAN’T BUY ME LOVE,  JUST ONE OF THE GUYS…) and some not so much (FRATERNITY VACATION, WEEKEND PASS, JOYSTICKS…).  And like its well-made predecessors, SECRET ADMIRER understood quite well its purpose: to be funny without going too far on the joke.   

Loughlin went on to make all kind of features, from big to small screens, but she truly found her niche when she joined the cast of FULL HOUSE on ABC in 1988.  Sadly, I never watched it.  There’s a limit to my following the careers on my fave stars.  I mean, FULL HOUSE is just too goodie goodie for my taste.  But I’ve heard that she was quite remarkable in it.  I’m not surprised.  Hadn’t she proved her comedic flair in SECRET ADMIRER already? One show I did follow for a while was SUMMERLAND which she starred and co-produced 15 years later.  I know, this one had kids in it as well, BUT it also featured pre-TRUE BLOOD Ryan Kwanten who of course was shirtless most of the times.  So here’s to you, Lori Loughlin, may your beautiful and talented self still be a permanent fixture on our screens for many years to come, just as long as you bring other hotties with you.  And from the way things are looking up (Hallmark has just renewed WHEN CALLS THE HEART for a second season) I wouldn’t be surprised. 
 

Until next post—Martin  
 
 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

“CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC”? SURE YOU CAN!


 
Oh my.  Where do I begin?  There’s nothing redeeming in watching this over-expensive piece of fluff.  Except perhaps to chuckle at the many scatterbrained moments involving The Village People. Along with Valerie Perrine, Steve Guttenberg—and yes, the Kardashian dad himself: a young and quite dashing Bruce Jenner—the group sole venture into films is nothing to shout about.  But boy,  what a way to go.  That is, if you can stand two hours of overexposed bonbons shaking.  On the heels of making it big with GREASE, producer Allan Carr decided to bring to the forefront this celebrated disco sextet who’s popularity was already waning before the musical comedy even got released.  That, along with its overall awfulness didn’t help at the box office.  Indeed, the film tanked so much that it is still considered to be one of the biggest bombs to ever grace our screens, and with good reasons.  Starting with the director  of  choice:  Nancy Walker.
 

If you recall, this short lady used to be a celebrated comedienne, playing, among other things, Rhoda’s mom in the self-titled classic sitcom.  People can also remember her later on as Sophia’s feisty sister in NBC’s The Golden Girls.  Why did Carr choose her to be at the helm of this flick?  Who knows?  But one thing’s for sure: she’s either a lousy director or is the greatest thing to ever happen since Orson Wells, depending to whom you talk.  I personally think she was on the verge of senility.  There is no other explanation for what we’re seeing.  Grant you, after catching Carr’s remake of WHERE THE BOYS ARE a few years later, I’m starting to wonder who’s really to blame.  I mean, have you seen that one too?  Talk about horrible.  I nominate it for a full blown blog entry as well.  But back to our topic at hand.  I sure didn’t expect it to be this bad, but it was.  And not really fun bad.  Just plain bad bad.  And there’s a limit to my loving this type of shit, really. 
 

The plot—if you can call it that—centers around the making of the Village People.  Guttenberg plays this wet behind the ears songwriter who, besides having an impressive bulge, just can’t stand still when it comes to his career. He wants to make it big, and along with curvy roommate Perrine, who’s a former fashion model turned partner with connections, eventually gets there.  And that includes kneeling on the floor while taking Jenner’s pants off (don’t ask).  Contrary to that last part, it takes time for Guttenberg to assemble our six spotlighted gentlemen but when he does we are treated (?) with plenty of gay-oriented moments such as the YMCA music clip involving many boys in different states of undress.  When male bodies aren’t the sole focus, you can actually taste other avenues such as awful dialogues and situations and a slew of dumber characters after the next (sorry, demure Barbara Rush who plays Jenner’s mom).  Yes, all should be taken with a grain of salt but the slapstick here is just as awful and embarrassing as the off-pitched solo performance of the construction worker who, seconds before, claimed to have had talent.
 

Am I too hard on this flick?  Absolutely not.  You really have to see it to believe it.  It seems to have become a cult favorite over the years.  Perhaps, but this then-15 year old in the closet gay boy who had first seen and enjoyed the flick back in the day can honestly tell you that, contrary to him, it has not aged well.  I suggest that you lower your expectations or be high as a kite before ever putting the film into your DVD slot.  Otherwise you’ll be left with your mouth agape the whole time wondering why you couldn’t make better use of it.

 
 
Until next time—Martin