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Loose Screws
(1985)

Director: Rafal Zielinski
Cast:
Bryan Genesse, Lance Van Der Kolk, Alan Deveau


Although I try with my reviews to start off by discussing a topic that I haven't discussed before in depth, I am going to bring up not only something I have sort of discussed before, but something not all that long ago. And that subject is fads. In my review of The Big Bus, I discussed fads of the 1970s that were once hot but eventually cooled to the point of having little to no life. But I am not going to discuss in more depth fads of the 1970s. Instead, I am going to put a little spin so that my discussion will have a little freshness and enough interest so that I am not repeating myself completely. Yes, instead I am going to discuss fads of the eighties instead! And I must confess that I am experiencing a little thrill in doing so, because the eighties was when I was a teenager, so that time period was a defining moment in my life. But I must admit that when I look back at that time, there are some eighties fads in my observations that kind of mystify me - how on earth could I (or millions of other teenagers) thought they were cool? One obvious way was with clothing, with such garments such as skinny ties that today look absolutely foolish. Various styles of hair found in this decade also come across as silly in this day and age, such as mullets. Speaking of hair, it was also related to another fad of the decade - hair metal. Groups such as Poison and Motley Crue were hot in the 1980s, but eventually found themselves struggling or out of business around the time the decade was over. (Personally, while I do find much of eighties hair metal music to be kind of lame, it does at least have one edge over much of modern day music, in that it's often more cheerful, positive, and enthusiastic in tone.)

Of course, one other fad found in the eighties is certain movie genres, genres that have faded from popularity like clothing, hair, and music. There is the eighties style action movie, for one thing. Although I am an expert on movies, I admit that I don't know why audiences today don't care for eighties style action movies, at least in theaters. (These movies still do well on cable, streaming, and home video.) But there are other eighties movie genres that are much easier to determine why they are no longer popular, and one of those is the teen sex comedy. Porky's, of course, was the movie that started the craze, and for a few years theaters were flooded with other examples. But before the decade was over, the genre soon died. Why? There are several possible explanations. One was the fact that almost all of these movies were terrible, with lame comedy and lack of sexiness. I think even teens eventually realized the poor quality of these movies, and eventually said enough is enough and refused to watch any more examples. Another possible reason for the genre's downfall was the outbreak of AIDS. Suddenly, casual sex got a bad stigma, and showing young people casually having sex without thinking of any possible consequences just didn't seem right anymore. And then there was the whole idea of teens having sex in the first place. I have the feeling that studio executives eventually realized that the idea of that was kind of irresponsible. I can tell you when I was a teenager, I knew that I should concentrate more on my studies and preparing for the future rather than get into a relationship. I certainly didn't want an unplanned pregnancy or possible heartbreak to get in the way of all that. Possibly studio executives, looking back on their teen years, eventually recognized this.

But whatever the reasons might be, the teen sex comedy is pretty much dead in this day and age. Even when the 1999 movie American Pie came out of nowhere and became a big hit (and spawned several successful sequels), no one in Hollywood seemed all that willing to try and imitate Loose Screwsthat movie. I can tell you that while I did enjoy American Pie, the movie all the same did not make me hungry for more Hollywood movies of the same kind. Too many memories of all those bad eighties teen sex comedies. So you may be confused as to why I am reviewing the eighties teen sex comedy Loose Screws. Well, the reason for that is that this particular eighties teen sex comedy is not from Hollywood. Instead, it is a Canadian production. While that pedigree did suggest that maybe it would be even worse than your typical Hollywood teen sex comedy, I decided to grit my teeth and give it a whirl in my DVD player, since I hadn't reviewed any Canuck teen sex comedies before for my web site - and I try to review at least one example of any genre. The events of the movie circle around four high school students, Brad (Genesse, The Bold And The Beautiful), Steve (Van Der Kolk), Hugh (Deveau, Screwballs), and Marvin (Jason Warren, Screwballs) It's the end of the school year, but they are informed by their high school principal Mr. Arsenault (Mike MacDonald, Recruits) that they will have to go to summer school at Cockswell Academy if they want to get their diplomas. Though when the four teen boys find out that Cockswell Academy has a healthy number of nubile girls their age, summer school doesn't seem so bad after all. In fact, it gets the four to work hard - not at their studies, but to score with various ways with their female classmates. However, the four eventually set their sights on Cockswell Academy's sexy French teacher Mona Lott (Cynthia Belliveau, Blue Monkey). But their extreme determination to score with her might possibly lead to their downfall - not graduating.

There is an additional reason why I think the teen sex comedy genre pretty much died a few years after it was first introduced that I didn't mention in the second paragraph of this review. That reason happens to be the type of characters you almost always find in this kind of movie. As you probably know, the kind of characters you find in teen sex comedy movies almost always happen to be obnoxious, selfish, stupid, and pretty much only have one thing on their minds. You wouldn't hang around characters like those in real life, so why would anybody want to subject themselves over and over to watching movies with these kinds of characters? If you have guessed that the characters in Loose Screws are typical for what the genre usually inflicts on an audience, you would indeed be right for the most part. There are a couple of characters in here that don't fit the mold, I admit. The French teacher Mona Lott comes off, in large part due to Belliveau's performance, as a somewhat naive but agreeable woman, enough so that it seems wrong-headed of the movie to include her in the inevitable mass punishment scene at the climax. And a female student named "Candy Barr" (Beth Gondek, Prom Night II) comes across as down to earth and likable, though she is eventually forgotten about and never brought up again. Apart from those two nice characters, every character in Loose Screws is what you'd expect. Principal Arsenault does the standard growling and threatening that authority figures in this genre usually do, though oddly he is more sympathetic than the four-central sex-obsessed teens (more on them shortly.) Other characters are equally tired and familiar, such as the female students' matron Hilda Von Blow (Deborah Lobban, Freakshow), who is essentially a clone of the character of coach Balbricker from Porky's.

As for the four male sex obsessed teens that are the centre of all the events in Loose Screws, they easily win the award for being the most repulsive characters in the entire movie. As I consult my notes and my memories of the movie, I think the biggest reason that they are so unlikable is that the screenplay does not give them any real dimension at all. They are simply a nerd, a fellow who is overweight, and two studs. The movie is content to simply think that we in the audience are familiar with these stereotypes, and can fill in the many missing details ourselves. About the only thing we learn about them is that their full names are "funny", like "Hugh G. Rection" and "Steve Hardman". With the movie desperate and willing enough to have such sniggering names, it should come as no surprise that the rest of the humor in the movie lacks imagination and true comic spark. For example, early on in the movie, one of the four lads wears a t-shirt that says "Trade me?", and he meets a woman with a t-shirt that says "Sure!" They then trade t-shirts. Oh, I am rolling on the floor with laughter. There is also plenty of double entendre humor, like when the principal tells the horny four after a sexcapade to not move an inch, and one of them replies by saying, "I've already moved nine!" There's also comedy that has long been milked out of any possible remaining humor, such as when one of the four boys dresses as a woman in order to sneak into the girls' dormitory. More original humor, such as when a golf ball lands near the groin of one of the four boys, is painfully predictable, despite the fact that you can't recall it coming from any other movies. There's even some racist humor when one of the boys masquerades as an Asian massage specialist, wearing a fake Fu Manchu mustache while speaking in broken English as he massages the woman he hopes to seduce.

I don't think I have to say that none of this humor is the least bit funny. In fact, I would say the level of humor is somewhat worse than what you usually get in a movie like this. That fact might not matter very much to some people, however, with those people being willing to sit through absolutely dead comedy in order to see some T and A. Well, there are a number of bare breasts on display throughout, but the sight of all these uncovered jugs fails to arouse, since director Rafal Zielinski (Screwballs) directs these sequences in a way that drains out any possible eroticism. It comes across as a matter of fact instead of sexy. But Zielinski doesn't just botch things up with the humor and the sexiness. The whole enterprise looks pretty bad as well. While set in California, the movie was shot in the Canadian province of Ontario, which of course means that the skies are always overcast, the backdrop looks less vibrant, and you can feel the colder weather. The various sets and props for the interior scenes also look pretty tacky and unconvincing. Certainly, Zielinski was hampered by a very low budget, but he was also saddled with a really bad screenplay. The screenplay is not only unfunny and lacking in character development, but there is also almost no story on display. After setting up the situation in the first few minutes, there is no real additional plot coming in until the last ten minutes of the movie. Until that time, the movie is just one unrelated scene after another of the four boys trying to seduce women and/or get them naked. Even though the running time of the movie is only about 77 minutes long, this lack of plot gets old really fast. You'll be tempted to take a lengthy nap while watching the movie, because you'll see that you won't miss anything important while your eyes are closed. If you should watch this movie, your screws won't be loose - you'll be saying, "Screw this!" with confidence and strength long before the ending.

(Posted July 13, 2022)

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See also: Hamburger: The Motion Picture, Hot Chili, Hot Resort

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