Review by Michael Jacobson
Doug McKeon, Kelly Preston, Catherine Mary Stuart, Chris Nash, Jami Gertz,
D. W. Brown
Director: Mel Damski
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Anchor Bay
Length: 97 Minutes
Release Date: April 5, 2005
your sense of adventure?"
behind my fear of humiliation."
Mischief...always had a soft spot in my heart for this movie.
a decade that was fraught with teenage sex comedies, this is one that stood
above for me. It was just a little
bit different. Like Porky's, it
was set in the 50s, but with a more reverential and nostalgic feel for the
period in terms of the sets, costumes, and colors.
Like Last American Virgin, it dealt with "the first
time", but unlike it, it was only sex on the surface.
Underneath was a story of friendship and heart.
the characters, while hinting at archetypes, were something more.
Jonathan (McKeon) was no nebbish nerd, merely a sweet, shy kid unsure of
himself. Gene (Nash) wasn't the
leather jacket wearing bad boy who sought out trouble, but a good hearted
reckless youth whom trouble always seemed to find.
James Dean may have perfected that kind of character, but for my money,
no one else really got it right again until this movie.
a small town in Ohio, 1956, Jonathan pines for Marilyn (Preston), the high
school knockout who barely notices him. Into
his life comes Gene, a big city kid who moved out to the burbs after getting
kicked out of his last school. Gene
needs to try and steer straight this time, so he decides to focus his energy on
Jonathan and help him make his dream date with Marilyn a reality.
their unlikely but genuine friendship that propels the film.
It's not so much about whether Gene helps Jonathan get the girl, or
whether Jonathan can return the favor when Gene falls in love with Bunny
(Stuart), who happens to be on the arm of the town's richest kid and biggest
jerk Kenny (Brown). It's more about
the way they help bring out the best in one another, and for both, it's a side
they never knew they had.
to me making the film sound all downbeat and serious...this is one damned funny
movie, and a welcome change of pace from most other similar films of its decade,
by deriving comedy from good naturedness rather than mean spiritedness.
Gene's efforts to transform the hopelessly awkward Jonathan into a ladies
man inspire some big laughs.
yes, I did call it a sex comedy, and the highlight of the movie is when Jonathan
finally gets together with Marilyn. The
gorgeous Kelly Preston wasn't camera shy, and the result was named by Mr. Skin
as one of the top ten celebrity nude scenes of all time.
It's also one of the sexiest and funniest scenes of the genre all rolled
up into one.
McKeon achieved fame by starring opposite legends Henry Fonda and Katherine
Hepburn in On Golden Pond, and I always thought his career faded away
much too quickly. His earnest but
uneasy portrayal of Jonathan in this movie was very winning.
This also marked the screen debut for Chris Nash, whom I don't think I
ever saw again...also a shame.
chemistry, along with the film's relaxed and easy approach to comedy and the
beautifully filmed recreation of 1950s life all added up to make Mischief stand
a bit taller than its competition in my memory. Sadly, though, it was the other films that went on to become
the staples of the decade, while this funny and sexy little charmer seems to
have slipped through the cracks a little bit.
you liked some of the 80s other big high school comedies peppered with sex
appeal, I know you'll love this warm, funny and underrated gem.
Try it and see if you don't.
TRIVIA: Jan De Bont is credited as
an assistant photographer on the film.
impressive...I wasn't sure what kind of treatment a small film like this would
get on DVD, but as usual, Anchor Bay doesn't disappoint.
The colors all render beautifully in this anamorphic print, which also
boasts great detail level throughout. Only
one or two minor instances of grain are noticeable...for a picture from the 80s,
which are usually troublesome visually, this one is a knockout.
even a 5.1 remix for this disc...hallelujah!
I say that mainly because this movie boasts a great collection of classic
rock and roll, most of which fits the narrative very cleverly.
Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Little
Richard and more come through the speakers with some of their biggest hits.
Dialogue is generally clean and clear throughout, but sometimes sounds a
bit thin next to the music beds. Rear
channels are used only sparingly for a couple of crowd scenes.
chicanery here...no extras.