In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_life

Life

Life struck me as several cuts above “meh” but never made me jump out of my seat.

Thumb_power_rangers_ver22

Power Rangers

Trashy, goofy, and surprisingly sincere, this superhero fantasy is better than you expect but not as good as it should be.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Journal Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Reviews

Tuff Turf

  |  

Life is not a puzzle to be solved; it is a mystery to be lived.
- Dialogue in "Tuff Turf"

It isn't every day that a movie review can perform a lifesaving service, but here goes: I don't think it's going to be safe to sell candy in the theaters that play "Tuff Turf." By the time the above line of dialogue occurs in the movie, it sounds so sublimely ridiculous that people are going to be in danger of choking. Maybe they should train the ushers in the Heimlich maneuver.

"Tuff Turf" is the worst teenage exploitation movie since "Where the Boys Are". It even has an equally wimpy hero, a young actor named James Spader who seems so laid back and introspective and sensitive and zonked that it is occasionally all he can to do rouse himself to the level of speech.

Advertisement

Spader plays a former rich kid who went to prep school in the East, before his father lost his job and the family moved to California, where the old man drives a Yellow Cab. The kid goes to a tough high school, where the girl that he likes is going with the local mugger.

The girl is played by Kim Richards, who has long blond hair that is very beautiful - and just as well, too, since there are long stretches of this movie where her hair is literally the only thing on the screen worth watching.

After an excruciatingly badly timed sequence where Spader's bicycle is destroyed by the evil gang members, the movie rambles so badly that it's hard to tell if this is a gang picture, a musical, a beach party film, or what.

You know a movie's in trouble when you start hoping for Divine to wander in and give it structure.

Among the low points: A scene in a rock club where Kim Richards leaps from table to table in the single worst choreographed dance since Kermit the Frog hopped across the lily pads. A scene where James Spader crashes a country club dance, commandeers the piano, and sings a bad song. A scene where Spader's agonized father (Matt Clark) utters advice on life that is so hilariously solemn we keep waiting for them to break up. And a stretch of dialogue where the characters apparently think you go to high school after college.

One of the strangest things about the movie is its timing. There is something vaguely off-balance about almost every scene. Pauses are held too long, or the cutting makes no sense, or meaningless looks are exchanged, or the camera is placed so that we get no sense of the action.

For example, in that opening sequence where Spader's bike is struck by a gang member's car, there is never a shot that shows us Spader, the bike and the car all at once. That's one problem. Another problem is, given the choice, we'd rather see the bike and the car than Spader.

Advertisement

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Mysterious Beauty: A David Lynch Retrospective Comes to IFC Center

A celebration of director David Lynch's filmography in anticipation of an upcoming retrospective at the IFC Center in...

“Marvel’s Iron Fist” is Netflix’s Biggest Original Series Misstep

A review of the fourth original Marvel series for Netflix. And the worst.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus