Monday, July 23, 2012

Hairy Teen Fantasy Action, Featuring Chubby, A Blonde, and Some Prick

(An aside, before we begin in earnest: my last entry to this blog, which had a Google-search-friendly title and thumbnail image, has to date pulled in THREE TIMES as many page views as any other entry, including the one all of my friends went to when I linked to it in my "hey, I've got a blog, here's an entry" announcement. So, from here on in, it's all racy opening images, and at least as many Google keywords as I can cynically fit in the title. Be warned)

Look What I Did To My Netflix Queue For You: Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf Too

Let's try something new in this space. I've put together a list of truly horrible movies that I intend to watch (who am I kidding? RE-watch) and break down for you, in the hope that we can all learn a bit about ourselves and each other. And since many of us have inexplicably fond memories of it, I decided to start with one we mostly all know or are at least aware of, in this inaugural double feature of 1985's Teen Wolf and its essential 1987 sequel, Teen Wolf Too.

(insert sound of wolf whistle to maintain a tenuous connection to the topic)
First off, let's head off that nostalgia at the pass.  Teen Wolf is not a good film. You may have a soft spot for it. I know I did. It's pretty terrible, and easily in the pantheon of Worst Film Depictions of Any Sport Being Played Ever Ever Ever. No one acts like a real person might in the film's circumstances, and there are more characters you'd want to punch in the mouth than there are ones you think you'd want to carry on a conversation with.

One of the latter is Michael Fox's character, Alex P. Keaton.

He was just told Teen Wolf wasn't just a lark put together by friends, but something intended to play in theaters.
Fox is inscrutably cast as one of the starting five on his high school basketball team, the Beacontown Beavers, which in the film's opening moments are seen losing a game by a score of 51-11; moments later we're shown the scoreboard as the game ends, with the lambasting extending to a 71-12 finale. None of these numbers should interest you as much as the idea of Michael Fox, all five-foot-four of him, playing on a basketball team. As a first-stringer.

Which, in a real game, would look something like this.

His teammates are almost entirely inconsequential; the only two given anything to say or do in the script are Doug Savant From Melrose Place, and Chubby.  There's very little to say about Doug Savant From Melrose Place, as he's only there to give Chubby someone other than Michael Fox to talk to on the team. But that just gives us more time to consider Chubby, a man with no actual name mentioned anywhere in the entirety of Teen Wolf or its sequel, who is courting obesity despite being among the starting five for his basketball team, who answers to "Chubby" as a nickname and is occasionally seen eating while on the court DURING games. I'm more and more convinced that this film is just the prequel to his eventual shooting rampage or suicide.

"Can you believe this, Doug Savant From Melrose Place? Yeah, me either..." (gravy)
And I cannot move on without telling you that there won't be many images of Chubby in this blog, simply owing to the sexy sexy frustration that comes with entering the keywords "teen" and "chubby" (and, to a much lesser extent, "wolf") into Google. I was shown a great many things, but not much from the film Teen Wolf.

One of the very, very few images I can include here.
We are quickly told two things about Michael Fox's character; that he is pining for a bitchy blond ice queen named Pamela Wells, and that one of his closest friends from childhood is a girl who, like Chubby, also suffers from Beaconton's horrible nicknaming conventions (such as calling their basketball team the Beavers). I'm speaking, of course, about Boof.  I checked the subtitles, hoping that it was at least "Beauf" or something that might not instantly make me think "Queef" whenever her name is spoken. Alas, no.

Later she would meet Laverne and work at a Milwaukee brewery under an assumed name.
The Teen Wolf universe is filled with people who don't go by any logical name, but for the most part the characters are likeable enough that you don't hold it against them.

Notice I did say "for the most part."

Does anyone have a glass of urine I can throw? No reason.
For Michael Fox has two other friends of note, and one of them is the reprehensible douchebag known only as Stiles.  I hate Stiles. I've always hated Stiles. Even when I saw this film in the 80s I thought he was a complete idiot. Now that I'm older I'm just sickened by him and his stupid shirts and his free-range
sociopathy. He's a sixty-year-old man's idea of what a "hip" high school kid is like, then embodied by a nearly thirty-year-old man in a way that would get anyone else arrested for trying to emulate his character.

The other friend is Lewis, who is so inconsequential that he disappears for the whole middle hour of the film. Stiles mentions that Lewis doesn't like Michael Fox as the wolf, which makes his inclusion in a movie called Teen Wolf awfully perplexing.  So he doesn't hang around after a cursory introduction. I'm assuming the actor had some other obligation he didn't tell the Teen Wolf director about until it was too late to recast him. That, or he walked off the set after realizing he was going to be depicted in a major motion picture as someone willingly spending time around Stiles.

Seriously, fuck off.
So, Michael Fox wants to quit the basketball team and maybe consider being a jockey. His coach dissuades him from this, and I can only assume the actor playing the coach decided that he was going to use the acting-class trick of always having some business to do with your hands during a scene. Throughout the two Teen Wolf films he will be seen eating, shaving, flossing, practicing billiards shots, masturbating to the farm report, slicing, dicing, and making thousands of Julienne potatoes, all while carrying on conversations with Michael Fox.

He's dicking around with a waffle iron and a tennis racket just out of frame, I assure you.
Dejected but still on the team, Fox leaves school, but not before somehow discovering a chest hair right in front of his sternum that is at least a foot long. Already you can hear the audible creak of credibility straining, as we're asked to accept that a teenaged male accustomed to studying his body in detail, hourly, could go that long without noticing that his torso was sprouting a ponytail.

Fox heads to his dad's store, where we're shown a scene that will only seem odd in retrospect. By the end of the film we'll know that Fox is a werewolf and comes from a line of such. And we see him reacting in pain to a whistle that no one else can hear, eventually tracking it down to a kid blowing on a dog whistle.

But why isn't his dad, the fellow werewolf, bothered by the sound?

And why did they go with that take of the scene, where the child actor can barely say his one line ("It's broken") without smiling?

So many questions.

So Fox tells his dad that he might quit basketball, and when prodded for what he'd do instead, he suggests acting on stage with the school theater department. This is a ploy to get close to Pamela Wells, who is playing a Southern belle and just generally looking hot.

Yeah, Queef's got no chance of getting his attention.
Despite that the play is clearly already in rehearsals, we're shown that Fox has somehow joined the cast in time to walk onstage in an ill-fitting suit and recite some wooden dialogue, though it's doing nothing to get him closer to Pamela. In fact, it's at this rehearsal that we're introduced to Mick, the perma-frowning embodiment of The Stock 80s Movie Pop-Collared Spiky Haired Prick, who can't seem to appear in the film without the phrase "steroid Bill Hader" leaping into my mind.

Which is another phrase Google has no idea what to do with.
Mick shows up to pick up Pamela, who is of course his girlfriend, and they leave together as Mick decides to do a big exaggerated villain laugh back to Fox, for no reason whatsoever.  He's literally laughing at nothing. He didn't talk much trash beforehand, he just says "Come on, let's go," puts his arm around Pamela, then starts cackling at Fox like they were sharing some inside joke we should have probably been let in on.

"Evidently he doesn't know I intend to fuck you later in the film."
Then it's off to the liquor store, where motherfucking Stiles has decided to just march his fire-engine red pants and stupid trucker hat into the store and try to buy "a keg of beer." At no point does anyone care what brand they get; I guess they'd just be so surprised by one of Stiles' dumbfuck plans succeeding that they'd be happy to drink whatever results from it.

One keg of O'Doul's, my good man!

We're talking about an asshole who is seen at various times in the film driving while standing up in his car, celebrating a D minus on a returned homework assignment, encouraging friends to hold up a liquor store ("but leave the money for it, so he can't say you robbed him!"), and making them drive without drivers' licenses. He is a fucking weasel, and the liquor store clerk can tell as much at a glance.

Michael Fox goes into the store and successfully navigates the purchase via his emerging wolf traits.

"Give me... a keg... of beer... and maybe... some Visine..."
And then it's time to head to a huge party with the newly acquired keg. No sooner does this journey begin than Stiles climbs out the window to stand atop the van while Fox drives. As evidence that there is no loving god who wants good things for us, Stiles is never once thrown from the roof of the van and into the path of an oncoming bus, even as Fox slams on the brakes upon discovering he now has Spock ears.

We arrive at the party, which is just about the last time we hear from Lewis for the rest of the film, and again we are presented with a scene that makes no sense in retrospect. We've already established that Stiles is a reprobate in need of nothing so much as chemical castration, but we've also just watched him arrive at a party several hours after it got underway, judging from the size of the crowd and the appearance of the house.

So why in fuck's sake are we then "treated" to his acting like the emcee presiding over a bunch of party games like whipped-cream-covered hogtied wrestling, and Jell-O body shots, and Two Minutes in Heaven, as if it's his own fucking party? Whose house is this, and why haven't they broken a lamp over this attention-whore's skull?

So, Queef draws some other dude's name from a hat but says Michael Fox's name when asked, giving her a chance to seduce him with her feminine wiles while they're locked in a closet together for two minutes. At this point Fox is fidgety and unable to understand the changes happening to his body, which is only exacerbated by his sudden make-out session with Queef in the closet, just in case we weren't all taxied in that this was an allegory for puberty and adolescence.

It had no chance of being more than 16 Seconds in Heaven, is what I'm getting at.
Fox escapes the party and rushes home, where his first true werewolf transformation occurs. After a brief impersonation of either Eric Roberts or John Merrick...

...he blooms in full, into what appears to me to be a slightly shaved Chewbacca.

"Christ, now I have acne AND parvo to worry about?"
Now, I have a lot of problems with this film. For instance, the next day at school we're shown a brief glimpse inside Stiles' locker, which appears to be filled with ironic "funny" items that the director thought would make Stiles seem more quirky and eccentric and less like an almost certain future date rapist.  So of course he has "wacky" googly-eyed glasses hanging in his locker, and of course he's sitting in class wearing a shirt that reads "WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT DICKNOSE" without any fear of reprimand from the school administration.

But when Fox comes to Stiles and turns into the wolf in front of him, we begin to depart from any semblance of reality even in a film about werewolves. Stiles seems concerned for about five seconds, then instantly begins scheming for how he'll directly benefit from this new development, like the fucking parasite he is.

You fucking fuck.
And when Fox "wolfs out" during his next basketball game, there is a similar bizarrely short window before everyone in the gym, including both teams, the coaches, the referees and the sparse crowd of spectators all just accepts this as something that happens sometimes. Yeah, there's a fucking wolfman standing down there dribbling the ball, where once it was just the kid from Back to the Future.  No disbelief, no screaming, no mass exodus from the gym as panic sets in and everyone wonders if they're ALL about to undergo some hideous transformation.  Everyone just shrugs and gets on with a game that was so unimportant two minutes ago that almost no one was watching and the Beavers' coach was more concerned with getting salt for the hard-boiled egg he was giving his full attention to on the bench.

Indeed, even as shit like this starts to happen...

Michael Fox. Five-foot-four. 
...everyone just takes it in stride. No quick phone calls leading to a screech of tires as a black van pulls up and men in suits hustle Michael Fox away to be dissected. Just a high school basketball game.

In fact, the next day in school we're shown the front page of the school newspaper, which features a picture of Fox as the wolf next to the headline "CAN HE DO IT TWO IN A ROW?" instead of the far more realistic "STUDENT DISAPPEARS AFTER VISIT FROM GOVERNMENT AGENTS, PRESUMED DEAD; BEST FRIEND COPING BY WEARING IDIOTIC PANTS."

No, instead the newly lupine Fox is the hottest thing at school. After a terse confrontation with the ridiculously suspicious school principal, Fox then promptly breaks into fucking pop-locking in the school halls with the only black guy we've seen in the movie thus far.  I'm not making this up nor exaggerating. The filmmakers even went to the trouble of dressing the black guy like the only black people they'd ever seen before, which explains why he looks like he's on his way to hang out with Fat Albert.

"But he looks WAY too ridiculous to hang with us!"
We're then treated to a quick-cut montage of the team doing well and of Fox's popularity skyrocketing; the scoreboard shows the Beavers winning a game by a 32-5 margin, then we see Fox signing autographs for a gaggle of kids whose parents are negligent at best, unless the "kids all get rabies booster shots" scene was cut from the film for time.

We see fucking Stiles selling merchandise in the halls, again with no fear of reprimand as he profits from his friend while conspicuously never discussing profit-sharing.

"Why should I? I'm the one who spent the forty seconds designing them!"
And we see the first cracks between Fox and his alienated basketball team, or at least between Fox and Chubby/Doug Savant from Melrose Place.

That is quietly swept aside for now, though, as it's time to reveal some of the horrors residing in the mind of Pamela Wells!  See, she's dating Mick, but she wants some strange, to put it mildly. Either she's really into bestiality in general, or she was just consumed by the question, "What would it be like to fuck a dog and not get socially judged too harshly for it?"  So she invites Fox to her dressing room after a theatre rehearsal and quickly, easily seduces him in order to say she fucked a werewolf.

He's standing full-height here. My point is that he shouldn't have been on the basketball team in the first place.
This she then does; sadly, we're shown none of this, and are made to suffice with an exterior shot of a random building while Fox howls like a wolf. If that sound normally accompanies his ejaculations now that he's a wolf, I'm sure that'll make for an easy adolescence.

By now the wolf is out in public more than Michael Fox is in his regular human form, much to the growing dismay of Queef but almost no one else.
"Hey, that's the third forceful stream you've gotten in my hair today alone!"

The next scene has Fox and Pamela on what we can all agree is a date at a bowling alley, despite her later assertion that Mick is still her boyfriend and she just wanted to bone the wolf, and Fox follows The Bro Code to the letter in "helping a lady with her bowling form" as an excuse to stand with your junk pushed into her butt cheek while you spoon in a standing position. This doesn't sit well with Mick, who just happens to be bowling there and exhibiting his usual level of joy at life.

Later he'll sit grimly over a pizza and then watch disgustedly as he receives a blowjob.
Mick is driven understandably jealous by the display, and storms over to confront Michael Fox, who loses his cool and throws a bowling ball, not down the lane but into the room at large. It's clear that this was included to show the sheer unyielding popularity of the wolf, as the town just tacitly excuses these occasional murders that tend to result from throwing a bowling ball into a crowded place of business.

Also, fucking Stiles unveils The Wolfmobile, which is just a van with a decal on the side, assumedly the same van that will host a number of chloroform-aided rapes in the undepicted years of Stiles' life following the film.

Stiles prepares to drive his friend around town.
Fox rides on top of the van now, and the director is so proud of the footage they got of Fox's stunt double doing a backflip that they proceed to show it five times in a row, as if he spent several miles just backflipping over and over.

And now it's time for the school dance, which Fox has agreed to go to with Queef despite her misgivings about his having to appear publicly as the wolf at all times. We're now given a montage of Fox getting dolled up either for the dance or to play backup bass for Steely Dan, followed by a shot of Stiles arriving at the dance as The Suburban White Guy Who Took The Wrong Idea From the First Picture of a Pimp That He Saw.

For her part, Queef looks nice in a strapless white gown she's no doubt hoping to turn Fox's head with, which manages to forgo her ninth pastel granny sweater of the film. No help from Google Image Search on this one. Sorry.

Fox arrives and everyone suddenly breaks into Beaconton's newest dance craze, The Wolf, which consists solely of doing jazz hands every three seconds. As this goes on, Mick the Obvious Sociopath decides to stalk over and punch Fox in the face, completely unprovoked. That is, assuming there isn't a deleted scene showing Pamela describing Fox's doggy-style technique to Mick moments before. Fox leaps up and slashes at Mick's suit, which appears to open it by neatly undoing its buttons without causing any damage to what was probably a rental by the film producers.

He said "doggy-style"! And the guy's a WEREWOLF!

Lewis pops up in the film for a few more precious seconds to display his lone character trait of "disapproval of the wolf," and the principal drags Fox into the hallway while all but twirling a mustache as he evidently plans to expel Fox from school for being punched in the face by some dick who doesn't even go to that school.

Fox's dad saves the day by randomly appearing to scare the shit out of the principal, and they call back to an earlier anecdote about Fox's dad making the guy piss his pants in fear, though I find the scene much more satisfying when I pretend the principal and Fox's dad are both looking down at the principal's out-of-frame erection instead of a puddle of piss.

So now Fox is depressed. He wants to please everyone but is turning everyone against him. His "good friend" Stiles gives not a shit, clearly more interested in protecting his investment in all the goddamned merchandise he's inscrutably allowed to sell in the halls at school. And the basketball coach delivers one of the few genuinely funny moments of the film with his oft-quoted “Always get at least twelve hours of sleep, never play cards with a guy who’s first name is a city, and never go near a lady with a tattoo of a dagger on her body” speech.

Delivered while simultaneously winding his watch and fly-fishing.
Fox decides to play the regional championship basketball game as himself rather than as the wolf, drawing ridicule from everyone with any intelligence whatsoever, as all are keenly aware that the wolf is the only reason the Beavers didn't lose every game of the season by sixty to seventy points.

And it's only natural that the Beavers will face the Dragons in the regional championship, the very team who beat the Beavers senseless in the first game of the season, and who feature Mick as a key contributor.

"If we win Regionals, I'll consider expressing happiness, but don't hold your breath."
The team, coach and fans are left to assume that Michael Fox has just walked away from the team all together, since we see him arrive at the gym with his team already trailing 22-3 in the first quarter. Thanks, buddy! Go Team!

Fox gathers the team to explain that he won't be playing as the wolf, and that they can still win this. Never mind that they've already let the Dragons run up a 19-point lead in less than a quarter of play, and that their starting five includes a possible Lilliputian and some fat guy eating a Hot Pocket while he shoots free throws.

More bizarre than his speech is the fact that Fox delivers his "No, seriously, we can win this" speech while sweaty and out of breath, evidently from the sheer physical strain of entering and walking across a gym. Fuck, Chubby isn't as disheveled. Our hopes hang on this guy, so obviously out of shape that he's panting and gasping for air after standing near the court?

Thus begins a game montage, at the 1:20 mark on the DVD, that is an embarrassment on par with the worst sports montages available in the film media. Maybe if you've never watched a game of basketball in your life, it's okay, but for anyone with the most remote working knowledge of the game, it's a mess. And, frankly, it speaks to the strength of this region that these two teams are meeting for the championship.

We have Chubby taking point and holding the ball out near the 3-point line instead of jostling for rebounds beneath the basket. We have Michael Fox playing at least three positions, rotating between point guard, shooting guard and small forward on a play-by-play basis. We have Chubby holding the ball for what seems like an entire shot-clock's time with no whistle. We have a string of hilariously vicious fouls by Mick that would have gotten any player at the pro, college or high school levels immediately ejected from the game, some of which go completely uncalled by the referees. We're talking running clotheslines and leg sweeps. I wouldn't be surprised to see him pull an uzi to stop a layup.

"Did he have to key my car, too?"
Yet the Beavers are whittling away at the deficit. We're shown scoreboard glimpses at 32-10, 35-12, and 36-15, but then suddenly it's 44-35 the next time we see it. Other than telling every Dragons defender that his mother was banging Delonte West, I don't know how such a collapse was made possible given the skills we've had on display by the Beavers.

One such x-factor is The Shot Blocking Ginger. This unsung hero of the game, who might be Joey Slotnick, is shown in several clips out-hustling the Dragons and coming away with steals and blocks and outlet passes on a regular basis. In fact, the director is again so proud of the footage he shot that he shows us The Shot Blocking Ginger blocking the same shot three or four times over the course of the comeback. Just exactly the same, down to the impossibly bad shooting stance of the Dragons player who was told to hold the ball so far behind his head that his release would have had no chance of ever reaching the basket had The Shot Blocking Ginger not been there to swat the ball loose.

Spoiler Alert: he isn't actually Joey Slotnick.
In quick montage, then:

Chubby with a skyhook! Hooray, fundamentals!

"It's like looking in a mirror!" ~Shawn Kemp
Mick's fourth criminally flagrant foul of the game! Huzzah, subtlety!

Uh, can we maybe go to a gym where Mick doesn't play racquetball?
And the single funniest shot of the entire film, which happens at exactly the 1:24:40 mark on the DVD: Fox scores, then inexplicably leaps into his teammates arms in a "hold me like a baby" manner to celebrate instead of getting back down the court to play defense, resulting in an almost instant basket by the Dragons at the other end to cancel out the two points Fox was just celebrating like they were vitally important.  Seriously, the Dragons score with what I'd guess is about 21 seconds left on the 24-second shot clock. I'm not even sure the ball touched the floor between when Fox shot it and the Dragons players scored.

Regardless, it's now 51-44 and the Dragons are nearing a collapse so complete that their parents will all stop recommending state universities and begin looking into community colleges. Meanwhile, other than the few aforementioned glimpses of The Shot Blocking Ginger doing what he does best, the whole comeback seems spearheaded by Fox and Chubby. Granted, there are so many shots of Chubby in the game because the only other team member who's had a single line of dialogue (Doug Savant From Melrose Place) was knocked out of the game by Mick's first Aggravated Assault of the game, so they have little else to work with.

I'm seriously out of pictures of the guy, though. If he does anything else, I'm down to the "Hey, that's Enrique Palazzo!" moment from The Naked Gun.
So Mick commits what is likely his eleventh or twelfth violent rib-cracking foul of the game, and the refs begrudgingly foul him out of the game with no time remaining. The Beavers trail by a single point, and for some goddamned reason Michael Fox is going to shoot two free throws despite Mick's foul happening away from the ball and to someone not in the act of shooting.

"Please make it, I put all my flea-market-sweater-shopping money on the Beavers!"
Mick talks some trash, then the head ref yells, "Get back off the court, but feel free to stand here in this dramatic eye-contact enabling spot for a staredown where it's clearly against the rules to lurk during a free throw attempt!" or words to that effect.

And Fox sinks both free throws despite arguably the worst shooting mechanics ever seen outside of a Chuck E Cheese's skee-ball trough, and the Beavers win it all, 52-51.  Michael Fox's instinctive response to this is "WE WON! YAY! NOW IT'S TIME TO STRADDLE MY DAD IN THE STANDS!"  

"Stop laughing. You didn't just see that. I'm serious."
Again we must ask the question of how any basketball game was ever won by a guy who can naturally be held like a baby or an extremely petite Thai hooker by everyone in his life.

"Don't make me dunk on you, lightweight."
Fox then shoves past Pamela to get to Queef for a big meaningful embrace, and Pamela saves face by telling Mick to get lost when he, for what must be the eighth time in the film, says some slight variation on "Hey, let's get out of here."

And then the end score kicks in with what might be the worst possible choice for a "we just won a championship" song, a wispy gentle piece that makes me think we should be walking on the beach and talking about scented douche.

Not Stiles. NEVER Stiles.
And, granted, it's in slow motion, but the roaring celebration of the crowd rolls under the entire end credits of the film. They won Regionals, not the damned Olympic Games! The only justification for that ratio of lusty celebration to actual accomplishment is a monoxide leak in the gym.

Thus ends Teen Wolf, and most of America's idea of what a high school basketball game should look like. this just became a two-parter. There's no way I'm squeezing in the sequel after having gone on this long about this one, especially given the simple fact that, as bad as this one was, the next one is so much worse.

Second part coming very soon!

1 comment:

  1. Although the shame is substantial, I do remember watching it with you. Nice recap. Much better than the film, actually. Makes me imagine it as a pleasant experience. Come to think of it, though, we did chuckle a little at the time.