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Brandon Spoils Movies - Back To School

Written by: Brandon Fisher

BTS

To round out the trifecta of poor overprivileged white youth in the 80s (see also: Just One Of The Guys and Soul Man ) this week I watched Back To School. This is the first entry where the youth was already accepted into college, but he was not in a fraternity or on the dive team. That doesn’t matter, because once his father enters into college everything works out for the best. The movie stars Rodney Dangerfield as college freshman Thorton Mellon, Keith Gordon as his son Jason and Robert Downey Jr as a gay pirate who may or may not also be a classical composer and may or may not be an Adam Ant back-up dancer. None of these characters are important. The movie is a series of dialogue struggling to incorporate Dangerfield’s one-liners and it’s an excuse to give Sam Kinison a job.

So what does happen? Well. After filing for divorce from his second wife (which apparently makes you want to get educated) Dangerfield decides to visit his son Jason at college whereby he discovers he’s a fratless loser who can’t get girls or a spot on the diving team. Dangerfield enters college by donating a large sum of money to the university in order to gain some book smarts (even though he already know more about the subjects he’s learning than his professors) and help his son overcome the awkwardness that only comes from being raised exuberantly wealthy. Maybe he should have just accepted an honorary degree - they seem to give those out pretty willy-nilly these days. He then moves in and enrolls in all the classes with his son. Okay. Here’s the problem: Have you ever had your parents show up to school to bring your forgotten lunch or to sit through a parent/teacher conference? It’s humiliating. This whole movie is predicated on the leap of faith that Jason has no problem his Dad is around him non-stop. They even party and study together. This would never happen in real life. In fact the only time Jason is ashamed is when his father comes to his dive meet which is the ONLY time children want their parents around.

So Dangerfield hires a team of employees to do his school work - only to get caught and is ordered to take an oral exam for his mid-terms in order to prove he learned something (yeah – I said mid-terms. Don’t forget this wasn’t even the finals or anything.) He then buckles down and studies for what must have been two whole days in order to learn half a semester’s worth of knowledge in order to pass the oral exam. He does so with the help of Jason and a teacher he is currently banging (by the way – did no one else think she was kind of a whore?) and skates through the exam. He then goes to Jason’s dive meet where he steals the show by allowing his body-double (who looks NOTHING like him) to do a “Triple Lindy” which seems illegal in all forms of diving. It’s called diving – not bouncing. You’re thinking of trampolines. Jason again has no problem with this. Oh well. At least he got the girl with the bare minimum amount of screen time needed to script a love story. Then Dangerfield delivers the shortest commence speech in the history of schooling to the seniors even though he is still a freshman and we are just past midterms. There are a lot of gaps of time in this movie. Like when he sets up the School of Management as a bribe to get accepted he does so overnight. Not to mention the timewarp you would need to take to assume any college girl would hook up with Dangerfield.

What is the moral of the story? Get rich. Then get smart. If you get in trouble hook up with the teacher and pay off the dean. Money is knowledge. Also if you are Billy Zabka you can dive into a pool and you’re perfectly maintained feathered hair will be unaffected. Oh yeah. Zabka’s in this too and as previously mentioned gets beat up by the nerd.

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