Appellate Judge Michael Stailey is working for the weekend.
Some films are inexplicable gems. I don't know if it's a unique alignment of the stars or someone having sold their soul to the devil, but the production fires on all cylinders and the end result is Hollywood magic. Perfect example: TriStar's Loverboy.
Facts of the Case
Randy Bodek (Patrick Dempsey, Scream 3) is a prototypical upper-middle class, collegiate adolescent. Good kid, good school, good family, good life. However, at some point, everyone needs to grow up, and Randy finds out the hard way.
Tired of being treated like an afterthought, his girlfriend Jenny (Nancy Valen, Baywatch) walks out on him. Tired of financing a half-assed education, his dad Joe (Robert Ginty, Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man) cuts him off. To make matters worse, he's sentenced to a summer of indentured servitude at Señor Pizza, complete with sombrero and Pancho Villa mustache.
Realizing he's hit rock bottom, Randy is determined to pay his own way back to school and regain Jenny's love. They say hard work is often it's own reward, but delivering pizzas is not going to make him the kind of money he needs. The universe gives a helping hand by providing Randy a chance meeting with Alex (Barbara Carrera, Never Say Never Again). The beautiful and successful businesswoman woos our young buck and inadvertently turns him into Beverly Hills's hottest gigolo since Richard Gere.
We're gonna need more anchovies!
Let's face it, this is every young male's wet dream come true. Seduced by a bevy of successful, powerful, and beautiful older women, all the while learning about life, love, and what makes a woman tick—not to mention getting paid for it? What more could a guy ask for?
In Randy's case, true love. He loves Jenny. All this excitement and adventure is great, but he knows he's screwed up and is willing to do whatever it takes to get her back.
When the student is ready, the teacher(s) will arrive.
Wait…sleeping with other women is going to win her back?!
Ah, the truth lies beneath the surface, Daniel-san.
Committed relationships are complex and difficult things. When passion dies down and life gets in the way, people crave more than sexual gratification. Each one of these women teaches Randy a valuable lesson. The importance of making your partner feel needed, appreciated, and loved. The value of providing respect, support, and encouragement for your partner's wishes, hopes, and dreams. The significance of an unexpected compliment. The power of simple human touch. These are all lessons Randy needs to learn—not only to rebuild his relationship with Jenny, but for life in general.
Robin (Romy and Michele's High School Reunion) Schiff's script may read like an episode of Three's Company, but the execution by everyone from director Joan Micklin Silver (Crossing Delancy) down to the third assistant key grip is flawless. Comedic farce such as this is not easy to pull off. Pacing is crucial, the set ups must be executed without fault, and the payoff has to be timed perfectly in order to give life to the humor.
Patrick Dempsey heads a brilliantly assembled cast. Each performs his or her function without a single misstep. Playing the straight man, Robert Ginty (Joe) nails one of the most difficult roles in the film, thoroughly confused about everything from his son's sexuality to his own marriage. Kate Jackson (Diane) builds off her comedic work on Scarecrow and Mrs. King and delivers a ditzy performance as a wife and mother rolling with the punches of life.
While the principals execute their roles well, the secondary characters are the ones who give Dempsey his best moments and make the film shine. For the women, Kim Miyori (the kept Asian bride, Kyoko), Kirstie Alley (the neglected wife, Joyce), and Carrie Fisher (the unappreciated artist, Monica) supply the energy and inspiration as Randy's mentors and muses. For the men, it's toupee central as the inimitable Vic Tayback (the big game hunter, Harry) and incomparable Robert Picardo (the arrogant leach, Dr. Palmer), along with the muscle bound Peter Koch (dim-witted personal trainer, Claude) who piece together the mysterious happiness exhibited by their wives, intent on ending it. We must also honor Cher's former boy-toy, Rob Camilletti, for his role as the suave, Italian exchange student cum pizza love stud, Tony, the hilarious EG Daily (Pee-Wee's Big Adventure) as Joe's neurotically skittish secretary, and the greatly underappreciated Bernie Coulson (The Accused) as Randy's Señor Pizza pimp, Sal.
In the end, it's Dempsey's film and arguably one of his best. His sweet naïveté, rampant insecurity, and gifted physical comedy combine to create a character everyone can identify with. From one absurd situation to the next, whether it's getting his lip caught in the zipper of Joyce's leather dress, stripping in the foyer of a woman that really only wanted a pizza with extra anchovies, or trying to escape from his mother through a second story bathroom window, you can't help but laugh. Where most similar films would botch the final payoff, Dempsey ensures that Loverboy knocks it out of the park.
Presented in 1.85:1 widescreen format, the packaging claims the film is anamorphic, but my DVD player would seem to disagree. The colors are as vibrant as the era in which they were filmed, but the image itself seems captured through a faint Los Angeles smog; not as sharp as it could be, but somewhat endearing all the same. No visible signs of dirt or grain, although you will catch the occasional evidence of digital tampering, most noticeably on the long shots. The Dolby 2.0 audio track may be one of the finest I've heard, making the best of both vocals and effects, while pumping up a great soundtrack.
So where's the catch? The bonus materials…or lack thereof. This release is so bare boned, Columbia TriStar spent only enough money to create two static menus—main and chapter selection. No joke. Adding insult to injury, the film is packaged with pre-programmed trailers for three TriStar films released many moons ago on DVD—Jerry Maguire, My Best Friend's Wedding, and Maid in Manhattan. Not that you would want to see them again, but in case the moment inspired you, these trailers can't be accessed from either menu.
The studio obviously didn't see much value in the film's release.
Loverboy a classic comedy that shows no signs of aging—well, except for the bad '80s clothes, hair, and decor, but those were doomed from the start. Echh! This one earns a "must rent" and "good buy" recommendation, even without any bonus features.
While this court is elated to see Loverboy made available on DVD, Columbia TriStar executives are hereby sentenced to one year in a warehouse filled with Harry Bruckner's cheap-ass security robots…"Bad boy! Bad boy! Very bad boy! I'm pissed at you!"
Court is adjourned.
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