Wednesday, July 14, 2010
REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS
A Tarantino favorite, this film chronicles the efforts of a cheerleading squad to thwart the plot of a real estate combine to tear down their high school. Sounds innocent enough, but this thing's the sequel to The Cheerleaders, itself a remarkable T+A sojourn by experimental filmmakers Nathaniel Dorsky and Richard Lerner. And Dorsky and Lerner pack the thing with plotless, out-of-nowhere moments that go beyond abstraction and realize the whole thing with a wildly contagious enthusiasm.
There are a number of professional actors in the thing (though only one of them went on to bigger things), but they're given little direction in terms of building credible characters. But credibility is the last thing Dorsky and Lerner are going for: none of the kids have parents, Aloha High School is a veritable Xanadu of joyous sex and debauchery, and a golf course's sand trap leads directly to the main office of the villainous developers' lair (the labyrinthine final reel shares Kubrick's sense of architecture).
The thing feels...well, like a horny high schooler's sex fantasy, moreso than any movie I think I've ever seen. A teenage daydream, with abundant free association: ineffectual authority figures are easily subverted (including one old lady from the school board who wipes out gorgeously on a textbook left in the hall); a food fight that turns directly into a soap-bubble orgy in the gym showers; students breaking out repeatedly in barely choreographed but exuberant dance numbers brimming with real joy. The amateur but ready for anything cast includes a young David Hasselhoff, whose performance as Boner perfectly exemplifies the dim-witted horniness and antic joy of the movie as a whole (and who appeared in this film to get his SAG card). But everyone in the cast is a little more charming than they need to be, and are all of a piece with the tone of the film.
It would be too easy to view this through a veil of irony and dismiss its apparent shortcomings. Engaging this thing on its own terms yields insane rewards, and a real joy that "better" movies are too programmed, too safe, too unspontaneous to capture. I wish all dumb teen movies were half this smart.
(An archival review from three years ago. Fresh content imminent.)