Modern Girls

I’ve never really understood the appeal of the whole “party all night” kind of lifestyle. I guess I value sleep too much. In today’s movie, a trio of 80’s chicks live their lives working horrible jobs by day before sleeping a few hours after dinner so they can party the whole night away. Such is the life of “Modern Girls.”

This 1986 film focuses on three roommates, Margo (Daphne Zuniga), Kelly (Virginia Madsen), and Cece (Cynthia Gibb). One night, as Margo and Cece are preparing to go out for the night, there is a knock at the door. The visitor is a somewhat awkward guy named Cliff (Clayton Rohner) who made a date with Kelly when he met her at the pet store where she works. Problem is Kelly has already gone out with another boyfriend, and has taken the car. This puts a serious damper on the other girls’ plans, until they realize that they can get Cliff to drive them around.

The three head for a club where they think they will find Kelly. This club is quite the place to be. In fact, the British singer Bruno X (also Rohner) even shows up. Cece, who is a major Bruno X fan, decides to literally throw herself on him, and he ends up becoming quite fascinated with her. But just when things start to get romantic between them, the cops bust up the place citing city ordinance violations.

Cece, Margo and Cliff end up escaping together, but now they need to find Kelly and help Cece get back with Bruno. They manage to figure out that Bruno is due at a music video shoot. When they show up at the set, the director (Martin Ferrero…the lawyer who becomes dino chow in “Jurassic Park”) notices Cliff’s resemblance to Bruno and uses him as a stand in. A short time later, they end up finding Kelly at bar where she has popped a few pills. In a really creepy scene, she wriggles around on a pool table while a few guys in trucker hats jockey for position. Her friends zip in and save her, but that the whole things gets played for laughs is just a bit squirm inducing. It doesn’t help that later in the film a second would-be registered sex offender tries to have his way with Kelly by a brightly lit fountain.

As the friends continue their wild night, many more strange situations transpire. Cliff gets mistaken for Bruno X by a bus load of tourists, they get caught with the top down in the rain, and the love bug begins to hit Margo and Cliff.

“Modern Girls” is usually labeled a comedy, but it’s not particularly funny and is way too silly to be called a drama. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of unpleasant stuff that happens in this film, but the characters just shake it all off. It’s all part of the party lifestyle I guess. Ultimately, one of the big problems with the film is that several of the lead characters are shallow and not at all appealing. Daphne Zuniga’s character is icy and superficial, and Virginia Madsen’s character just makes bad decision after bad decision. Both these actresses had some great moments in the 80’s, but this one is a definite misstep. However, I thought Cynthia Gibb’s character was a lot of fun. There’s something in her eyes and smile here that makes the goofy premise that a rock star would go ga-ga for her at first sight somewhat believable. I think the film may have worked much better had the film focused on her, and eliminated the other two roommates.

I did find one other aspect of the film enjoyable, that being the barrage of 80’s styles. Now this was made in the 80’s, but it feels more like a film made years later trying desperately to recreate the styles. It is completely over-the-top. I could say it’s like opening a time capsule, but it’s really more like one exploded in your lap. It’s a bit bizarre, but it does give the film a hint of charm. Oh, and like so many 80’s films, it’s got a pretty cool soundtrack.

Since I was never a party person, and I never will be (I’m an old fart now, after all), it’s hard for me to find much to enjoy in “Modern Girls.” But I can appreciate the 80’s nostalgia, and still get my 8 hours of sleep.

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