Hi, I’m The Jerk. You may remember me from such blog posts as; “Surefire Ways to Kill Your Readership,” or “You Can’t Write That, Hallie Lord Might Be Reading!”
Simcha gave me the week off, hoping I would drink myself into a stupor during that time and forget the blog password. Heh, that’s why God made tattoo parlors, friends. Now I’m back, relatively sober, and ready for whatever controversies ensue.
A word about that: Enough with the death threats, Hallie. You don’t scare me. And the voodoo dolls – while stylishly dressed – have no impact on a guy like me. I’m already banned from the Opus Dei swimming pool, I regularly get obscene phone calls from Alice Von Hildebrand, I once fought the entire La Leche League legal team. You’re gonna have to try much, much harder.
On to the movie!
I gotta be honest with you folks, this movie is a heck of a lot worse than I remembered it. We’ll dive into that in a second, but the biggest disappointment I had watching this was the music. In my mind, I always heard Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield” whenever I thought about this movie, or Helen Slater, actually. Umm, let’s not think about why too much, OK?
Great song, right? But that’s NOT the theme song from The Legend of Billie Jean. It’s really “Invincible” by Pat Benatar.
See what I mean? It’s like eating Reese’s Pieces when you thought you were getting M&M’s. Something so close to what you wanted, and yet so sucky at the same time.
The movie concerns the semi-tragic story of Billie Jean, a trailer-dwelling beauty forced into a life of crime because some red necks trashed her younger brother’s scooter. It’s just like The Iliad, except instead of Helen of Troy forcing characters to fight to the death (or fight to the near-maiming in this movie), a Honda scooter is the vehicle of fate. Or, maybe not. I dunno. Look, I thought I had a joke for this.
Billie Jean, played by Helen Slater, and her brother– umm, Bing?– played by Christian Slater (no relation) just want $608 to repair the scooter after said local roughs scratch it and pull the mirror off. Seriously, how much damage can you do to a scooter? And for $608 in 1980’s dollars, couldn’t you buy a whole Ford Fiesta?
Billie Jean goes to the father of one of the youths to get the money back. She totally does not see it coming that this guy is a creep, despite the fact he looks like this:
The Gulf oil spill was absorbed by his hair.
Predictably, Senor Fancy ‘Stache tries to take advantage of Billie Jean. While our heroine keeps her honor, her numbnuts brother accidentally shoots the villain.
Billie Jean, her brother–umm, Bick?– and the gang from the trailer park hightail it to the other side of town in a not at all conspicuous station wagon with waves painted on it. These kids never leave the greater Corpus Christi, TX area, and yet the cops are stumped. If this movie drums nothing else into the viewer’s head, at least it get across the very clear message that Texas law enforcement leaves much to be desired.
Fun’s over, back to the movie. Billie Jean and the gang have only one ally in the grown up world, a police detective played by Peter Coyote. This is a guy I really want to like as an actor, but he spent his career making crap like this. Look, I may be the one guy to have seen Exposure, and like I said, I really dig Coyote as an actor, but he is the poster child for wasted talent.
Now that our youths are officially misunderstood fugitives, they decide to break into a house they think is empty. Instead, it is home to Lloyd, the one Jew in Corpus Christi.
Lloyd does the kids a mitzvah and tapes Billie Jean’s statement of righteousness so they can get the word out about how she is just a crazy, mixed up kid on the side of justice. Billie Jean gets ready for the big show by donning a wet suit, parachute pants, and cutting her hair in that way girls do after a bad break up.
This tape inspires girls all over Nueces County to cut their hair as a sign of solidarity. I guess this is where the “legend” part of the The Legend of Billie Jean comes from. All the kids spout her slogan, “Fair’s Fair!” too. Maybe the film makers were hoping for one of those big cultural moments being sparked by this movie, with a mass youth movement inspired by Billie Jean and her, uh, legend. You know, like when the kids went crazy with Fanny and Alexander fever.
It’s at this point some sub plot involving Lloyd’s district attorney father, portrayed by Dean Stockwell, comes into play. Like much of Stockwell’s acting career, it never really goes anywhere, so don’t worry about it.
Sorry, Dean. You were great in Quantum Leap.
There is a grand finale on the beach, Christian Slater gets shot, Helen Slater is burned in effigy, and our oily villain gets his comeuppance.
The movie ends with Billie Jean and her brother — Binx! — safely in that magical land of happiness, Vermont. This is where the movie makers really show their ignorance. Vermont is not an escape from a sleazy trailer park. The entire state IS a sleazy trailer park. With snow.
Next week, assuming Simcha hasn’t changed the password, I will review one of three choices. Again, I will leave the poll open through Friday. Your choices are: Last week’s runner up, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, director George Roy Hill’s ‘classic’ that is just not as good as you think it is; Yentl, director/star Barbara Streisand’s feminist musical that is as bad as you think it is; or The Man Without a Face, director/star/lunatic Mel Gibson’s ode to deformation and learning that is just God awful.