My Man Adam

Director: Roger L. Simon   
Raphael Sbarge, Page Hannah, Dave Thomas

There are moments in your life that will live with you forever. I know I have plenty of them, maybe even more than the average person. Some of these moments are good and pleasant to relive in my mind. I still remember the exact moment when, in my teens, I had my first driving lesson and I was finally placed in the driver's seat for the first time, hands on the wheel and foot on the gas pedal, feeling the enormity of what I was about to do (I had the power!) I also remember vividly the moment when I had my first kiss. It was about a mile from my place, right next to the ocean, and what I remember most about the moment was when the girl actually asked me to kiss her (Thank you, Akiko!) That wasn't the only kiss I had that day, but I'll leave it at that for now. Those and others are pleasant memories, but I have other moments that will live with me forever that are haunting in nature. One of those memories was embedded when I was a very small boy. I was an avid television viewer at that age, and every day I did not miss the Mighty Mouse show. One day my brother found out (I don't know how he did) that the TV station would no longer air the show and he told me. The news so stunned me that I cried. I never saw any more Mighty Mouse cartoons again until I was an adult, and then I learned what lousy taste I had as a child. Another trauma I suffered when I was a small child was when I was playing The Six Million Dollar Man board game with my father. He won the game, I lost, and again I cried. (Yeah, I guess I was pretty wimpy when I was small.)

I am also haunted by the fact that I came close to making some real money. When I was younger, I was an aspiring comedy writer. I remember the day, when I was a small boy, I came up with the new word "sexretary". I chuckled at my wit, and figured I could sell this joke for a good price at a later date. But one day I walked into a novelty store, and on one of the shelves I saw a name plate for a desk that had the word I invented on it. Then there was the time later on that I came up with this joke: "What do you call it when a barber removes his child from his will? A heir cut!" Again I laughed and thought I was on the track for getting some nice cash. But then one day when I was reading the newspaper and I glanced at the syndicated word game Jumble, and I discovered that the writer had used the joke I had come up with. (It goes without saying that my sense of humor was pretty bad when I was small.) But most of all, I am haunted by video boxes that I saw in video stores when I was younger. I remember when I saw the box for Flush in a video store. I was intrigued by the cartoon illustration on the front, but more by the blurb on the back of the box that said this film was "...popularly known as It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World Part 2". "Popularly"? I hadn't even head of the movie before! The video store shut its doors before I could get the chance to rent it, and for years afterwards I couldn't get the movie out of my mind. Several years after starting this site, I put out a call to see if anyone could provide me with a copy of the movie, and eventually I got one. I learned that some things are better unseen, as you will see if you read my review of the movie.

There have been other video boxes that have haunted me for years. Some of these movies I have eventually tracked down and watched (The Black Gestapo, The Aftermath), while there are others that have remained out of reach and that I'm kicking myself for not renting when I had the chance (Osa, What The Peeper Saw). Recently I managed to cross off my list another movie that has haunted me, My Man Adam. I remember when I first saw its video box and being intrigued. It was a release by a major studio (Tri-Star), but I had never heard of it (I later learned it was barely released to theaters.) I remember being intrigued by its crazy front box art - the protagonist depicted as a giant, carrying someone while stepping over a collage of random images, including a man doing a handstand. But for some reason I never rented it. When I recently found it for sale as a used video at a local video store, I snatched it up. I was also happy to get it for two other reasons. One was that it was an '80s movie, and recently I have had nostalgic feelings for the era; I grew up in that time. Also, I found out it was about a dreamer, a non-conformist, and that's the kind of person I was growing up (and still am to a degree.) Adam Swit (Sbarge, The Guardian) is that person, a 17 year-old with an unenviable life. He doesn't get along with his family or most of his teachers, and he has only one friend. He is infatuated with a new girl at school (Hannah, sister of Daryl), but she doesn't know he exists. With all this and more happening in his life, it is no surprise that he frequently drifts into daydreams, where he is the hero and the champion of the day. But soon he stumbles into a real-life crime, and his dreaming will do nothing to help him get out of it.

I should have known what I was getting into when I got My Man Adam. That's because it was released by Key Video. An explanation for those who don't know the significance of that. In the glory days of VHS, Fox Video (which was back then known as CBS/FOX video) had two video lines. CBS/FOX was the label they used to release most of their own movies on video, as well as most of the movies from other major studios they got video rights to. Key Video, on the other hand, was the label they used when they released a movie from their own library that they didn't seem very proud of for one reason or another (such as Mr. Billion), as well as movies from other studios they didn't seem proud to have the video rights to. (Key Video has been resurrected by Fox for the DVD era, by the way, with the same usage.) Watching My Man Adam, it became clear why it was released by Key Video. That's not to say that it's completely bad. There were a few things I liked about it. For example, I liked how the dream sequences were handled. Usually when a movie is about a dreamer, we not only get a lot of (overlong) daydream sequences, but they are depicted in a manner that seems unrealistic, with the dreamer coming up with situations that seem silly to a normal observer (see the Chuck Norris movie Sidekicks as an example of both of these things.) Here, Adam's daydreams are a mere handful, they don't run for more than 30 seconds each, and the situations he dreams up depicting himself in a heroic light are amusing yet believable. Even the Gone With The Wind parody (the funniest daydream in the movie) comes across as something a lonely and outcast teenager might dream up.

I also liked the message that the movie had about dreaming, that it is okay to dream, especially if you are in a bad situation. At the same time, I appreciated the other message that the movie had, that while it's okay to dream, if you want to reach your dreams in real life, you can't just dream -  you have to get up and work at it until you reach your goals. That's a message that I learned myself while growing up. Another thing I liked in My Man Adam was the performance of Page Hannah as the girl that Adam is infatuated with. Looking at her resume, I found out she didn't have much of an acting career before quitting for good, which is too bad, because from this movie alone I would have predicated better things for her ahead. She has a beauty that is natural and seemingly free of hair stylists and other beauty makers. Wisely, she does not play her character as feeling she is superior of others, but seems instead down to earth and having the same basic wants and needs that others have. She and Sbarge generate a genuine chemistry when they are together, the best example of this when they both sing to a song that's playing on the radio. While Sbarge is good when Hannah is with him in a scene, he comes across as lost when she's away, both befuddled and kind of bland. He does come across better than some of the other actors in the movie though. Veronica Cartwright and Dave Thomas (SCTV) play his parents, and their performances are embarrassing. Cartwright (Alien) comes across as a shrieking harpy, while Thomas here is as bland and unfunny as the hamburger king that shared his name, doing "hilarious" things like putting odd toppings on pizzas or hunting burglars with laser rifles.

However, the worst performance in the movie has to be that of comedian Charlie Barnett as Leroy "Adams" Williams, the "hip" African-American that Adam befriends during the movie. I'm not saying that Barnett was an actor without talent - you'll see here that he has a natural charisma and hints that he could give a good performance. It's just that the way that the script and direction both force him to give one of the most strident and stereotyped performances I've experienced, including the fact that his dialogue is peppered with the "s", "f", and "n" words. His character is a gross stereotype, making him a 26 year-old still in high school that sells t-shirts from the back of his van. In fact, all the African-American roles in the movie are offensive. The brainy one that is running for school president is portrayed as a wimp and is dismissed several times as a "black Republican". There is a militant African-American who has the stereotypical sunglasses and beret, and the remaining African-American shown in the movie is a member of a chop shop gang. All this is vulgar, and seems way out of place for a movie about a dreamer and reaching your dreams. But this is not the only material in the movie that seems wrongly put in. Besides the aforementioned foul language in the movie, we get stuff like nudity, people using guns, and attempted murder. The movie is rated "R", and you have to wonder what the people who made this movie were thinking when bringing in all this wrongheaded material to something that should have been sweet and light in tone. The end result instead is something like a bad dream.

Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)

See also: Daredreamer, Didn't You Hear, Rivals