I’ve had more than my share of car repairs in my life. I hate the experience. I have zero knowledge of the inner workings of an automobile and the mechanics can sense that…they smell it. Like how cats always know that I’m allergic to them, so they try to rub their fur all over me. If you take the car in for an oil change, the mechanic will always give you a list a mile a long of everything that’s wrong with the car. They’ll also make you feel like the car will instantly burst into flames after you leave the garage unless you have them fix all the problems now. It’s one of the most intimidating experiences on the planet. I can imagine that the screenwriter of the 1985 film “Tomboy” may have had similar experiences and imagined that visiting the world of auto repair might be a bit more bearable were there a sexy young female mechanic capping his spark plugs. Thus a screenplay was born. Then again, he may have just been trying to make a movie with a lot of topless women in it.
“Tomboy” tells the story of Tomasina Boyd, known as Tommy. Get it?! Tommy Boyd! Tom-Boy! These are the skills you need to be a screenwriter kiddos. Tommy, played by the very beautiful Betsy Russell, works as a mechanic and enjoys riding motorcycles and shooting hoops with the boys. When she’s not doing those things, she spends her time staring at the crotch of auto racer Randy Carr, who’s poster she has hanging by her work bench. We also meet Tommy’s best friend, Seville (Kristi Somers), who is every 80’s fashion cliche wrapped up in one blonde package. Seville aspires to be on TV and keeps telling Tommy how they need to get out of “this hick town,” known more commonly to us as “Los Angeles.“
Now, for some reason, a rich young slime ball named Ernie Young Jr. is having his Rolls Royce repaired at the “hick town” garage where Tommy works. Ernie is played by Eric Douglas, son of Kirk and brother of Michael…but he looks like a cross between Fisher Stevens and the lead singer from Wang Chung. Ernie’s family puts big money into auto racing, so when Ernie shows up at the garage one day, he is accompanied by Tommy’s dreamguy, Randy Starr (Gerard Christopher). The two end up seeing each other and all is going well until Randy starts to make light of Tommy’s auto racing abilities. This leads to a battle of the sexes…a race to determine who is best driver.
Honestly, it’s hard to see how Tommy could fall for the legendary Randy Starr. I mean, I guess it must all be looks because the character really is…well…a jerk. Observe:
During the flirting stage of their relationship, Randy and Tommy take some motorcycles out for a ride. When Tommy jumps her bike and flies over the handlebars, landing face first in a creek, Randy’s response is to cackle at her like the Wicked Witch of the West. But I guess he’s an OK guy because he offers her his jacket to put over her wet clothes. Her response is to completely remove the wet clothes and just wear the jacket. Girls just love it when you laugh at them for almost breaking their necks.
Case Number 2: The couple don boxing gloves and engage in a playful sparring match. When Randy gets a bit too enthusiastic about his right hook and lands Tommy on the floor, he bends down to see if she’s ok but also seizes the opportunity to undo a few buttons on her blouse. Her response: she playfully slaps him around a bit and then has sex with him on the gym floor. Punching a girl is so romantic, after all.
Obviously, this movie’s only purpose was to show off attractive young women. However, the Tommy character is likeable, if a bit stupid at times. The idea of a pretty young mechanic challenging a famous race car driver could’ve been a fun little Rom-Com. Unfortunately, this movie has very little Rom, and absolutely no Com. As a matter of fact, the closest thing to comedy in this film is the completely awful soundtrack. These Z-grade 80’s pop tunes are mind-bogglingly bad…take the ridiculous theme song that features the lines, “Tomboy! She’s a road runner. Tomboy! She’s a tail gunner.” Whaaaaa?