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Case Number 24370

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Joysticks (1983)

Scorpion Releasing // 1983 // 86 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mac McEntire // August 21st, 2012

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge Mac McEntire has Pac-Man fever. It's drivin' him outta his mind!

The Charge

More fun than games.

Opening Statement

If you weren't there during the glory days of the video arcade in the early 1980s, in the brief window of time before games were available in home versions, then you could never understand. The arcade was a doorway to not just one new world, but several, with the games offering seemingly endless wonders.

There was also a social status at the arcade, where older kids in their awesome beat-up leather jackets managed to reach the rarely-seen harder levels on a popular game. Crowds would gather around the machine at this point, to see how far he could get on a single quarter and only three lives.

There are still arcades to be found, but the arcade as it once was is no more. If you want to relive the experience, and have some incredibly cheap laughs along the way, check out the trash comedy Joysticks.

Facts of the Case

It's 1983, so of course the hottest joint in town is Bailey's Video Arcade, run by everybody's best pal, Jeff Bailey (Scott McGinnis, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock). All the women love him, all the guys wish they could be him, and his hair is perfect. Jeff keeps the arcade running with his two sidekicks, the nerdy, virginal Eugene (Leif Green, Grease 2) and the gluttonous, unbathed McDorfus (Jim Greenleaf, Night Shift).

On the other side of town, the wealthy and uptight Mr. Rutter (Joe Don Baker, Mitchell) does not approve of the sleazy shenanigans going on at the arcade, especially with comely teen daughter Patsy (Corinne Bohrer, Veronica Mars) spending all her time there. Rutter teams up with local punk rocker King Vidiot (John Gries, Napoleon Dynamite), in an evil scheme to shut down the arcade, permanently.

The Evidence

What we have in Joysticks is the basic '80s teen sex comedy, except that instead of taking place in a summer camp/beach/roller rink/car wash, it takes place in and around a video arcade. The filmmakers really commit to the gaming theme, working video game imagery and references throughout. The movie was apparently made during that sweet spot after Pac-Man was popular, but before Donkey Kong hit it big. As such, pictures and graphics of Pac-Man are everywhere. The filmmakers got produce placement rights from game companies, so they go all-out with the game visuals and references. The attitude seems to be, "Hey, kids, you like Pac-Man? Look, here's Pac-Man."

The video games are the big draw to get young people into the theater, so how do the filmmakers maintain their interest once the movie starts? Boobs! Boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, gazungas, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, yum-yums, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, vroom-vrooms, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, BOOBS! At every possible opportunity, some young wannabe-starlet takes off her top. Yeah, it's that kind of '80s comedy.

Is the movie funny? These are cheap laughs, but they work in a "drunken Saturday night with your buddies" kind of way. The characters are painted in the broadest of strokes. Jeff is the hero, Eugene is the nerd, McDorfus is the slob who's always eating, and Mr. Rutter is "the man" trying to shut them down. Patsy delivers her lines mimicking that song "Valley Girl," for a joke that gets tired real quick. The punk rockin' King Vidiot goes way, way over the top, as punkers in cheeseball '80s comedies are known to do. As for the story, there's some attempt late in the film to give Jeff a tragic back story, but it's so half-assed it ends up unintentionally funny.

The picture quality here is hurting, covered with scratches, flecks, and Tyler Durden's cigarette burns. One scene, in which our heroes make their case before the town council, is especially rough, with a sickly green haze over the entire picture. Audio is a little better, making the most of the video game-related pop songs on the soundtrack.

Director Greydon Clark offers a commentary and interview, in which he discusses his fondness for the movie, and how proud he is that it debuted at number one at the box office the week it debuted (!). He also goes over his whole career, which includes various cult/exploitation flicks, such as Final Justice and Lambada: The Forbidden Dance. The theatrical trailer is also included.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

This is lowbrow, predictable comedy. The fat guy is always eating! The nerd gets flustered around girls! The adults don't understand teen slang! Without the video arcade hook, there's nothing you haven't already seen in dozens (hundreds?) of other teen comedies.

Closing Statement

As a movie, Joysticks isn't anything to get excited about. As a time capsule, it can't be beat.

The Verdict

You got an extra life!

(Boobs)

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Scales of Justice

Video: 40
Audio: 60
Extras: 80
Acting: 70
Story: 60
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Scorpion Releasing
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Comedy
• Cult
• Exploitation

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Interview

Accomplices

• IMDb
• View the Trailer








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