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Case Number 25979

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Tomboy (1985)

Scorpion Releasing // 1985 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mac McEntire // July 17th, 2013

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge Mac McEntire wonders why more parents don't name their daughters "Tomasina."

The Charge

It's not just a man's world anymore.

Opening Statement

After zipping in and out of theaters in a blink in 1985, Tomboy, like most movie obscurities, has developed something of a cult following since then. Now, the folks at Scorpion have unearthed Tomboy and are bringing it back to the masses on this DVD.

Facts of the Case

Tomasina "Tommy" Boyd (Betsy Russell, Saw IV) loves working on cars, rides a motorcycle around town, and plays basketball with the guys. When hunky racecar driver Randy Starr (Gerard Christopher, The Adventures of Superboy) enters her life, suddenly there's romance. Then, when Randy and others believe Tommy's built-from-scratch engine can't be as good as one built by a man, Tommy has to prove her worth on the racetrack.

The Evidence

If I were to describe this movie in one word, that word would be "uneventful." Prepare for long stretches of the characters just hanging out and living their lives without any plot progression. This can, on rare occasions, work for a movie, but only if the characters are really compelling and if the performances are exceptionally strong. That's not the case with Tomboy. The acting is flat, and the characters are uninteresting. It's all centered on how Tommy likes cars. Is a female car mechanic really that unusual? People react to Tommy working on cars as if she's a mechanic and a snake charmer and an astronaut and a fire dancer and a kitten juggler. Just a mechanic? Not really enough to base an entire movie on.

Tomboy is often described as a "sex comedy," and while the first hour has generous amount of female nudity, the comedy is lacking. The hunky guy that Tommy's friend has a crush on turns out to be gay. Is that a joke? It feels like they're trying to make it one, but as a joke it's not quite there. That's true of all the attempts at humor in the movie—the closest we get are mere half-jokes.

So if the movie doesn't work as a comedy, perhaps it should be viewed as a straightforward romance. No, it doesn't work in this context, either. As noted above, the actors have zero chemistry. Gerard Christopher especially appears to be merely reading his lines aloud rather than create a character. Betsy Russell does what she can with the material, but this is another of those "perfect girl" movies, where the female protagonist is good at everything she does and everyone loves her. The only obstacle she faces is the occasional jerk who doesn't think a girl can also be a mechanic. She then shuts these folks up with little to no effort, thanks to her flawless skills. She doesn't have any faults, she doesn't have any conflict in her life, and she doesn't have any goals. She's just there, and the audience is wondering why they are watching.

The standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image and Dolby 2.0 Stereo audio are a little rough. The film is marred by hazy visuals with occasional scratch3s, and a flat tinny sound. For extras, there is a nice interview with Betsy Russell, a trivia-filled intro from Katarina Leigh Waters of the "Katarina's Nightmare Theater" brand, and the original theatrical trailer. Note that for this review, DVD Verdict received an advance screener disc, which may or may not differ from the finished product.

Closing Statement

She can fix your suspension, but she can't fix this movie.

The Verdict

Guilty, girl.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 60
Audio: 60
Extras: 60
Acting: 20
Story: 30
Judgment: 40

Perp Profile

Studio: Scorpion Releasing
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 1985
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Bad
• Comedy
• Romance
• Romantic Comedies

Distinguishing Marks

• Introduction
• Interview
• Trailer


• IMDb

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