One of the go-to plot devices in the 80’s was the one about teenage boys on a quest to lose their virginity. Even if these films weren’t big money makers at the box office, they lived forever on late night cable TV. In today’s film, that quest becomes much easier for one young man when he ends up with a hot young woman as his own live-in French teacher in 1983’s “My Tutor.”
The film centers on Bobby Chrystal (Matt Lattanzi), a high school senior anxious for the summer to begin. Unfortunately, he fails his final exam in French. In order to actually graduate, he needs to retake the test and get a passing grade. That means he’s going to spend his summer with a tutor preparing for the test. That’s a serious bummer since he had planned on spending time with his pal Jack (Crispen Glover) and his brother Billy (Clark Brandon) trying to score! Preferably with his crush, Bonnie (Amber Denyse Austin), but she’s dating a college guy named Biff.
Little does Bobby realize that his wealthy father (Kevin McCarthy) has hired a shapely, 29-year old, aerobicizing French tutor named Terry (Caren Kaye) to teach Bobby a thing or two. If Bobby passes the test, she’ll get a bonus of $10,000. By now, you’ve probably figured out that French ends up not being the only thing on the curriculum. The fact that Terry likes to take nude midnight swims in the family pool certainly steers things that direction quickly.
Bobby and Terry soon start seizing on any opportunity for some alone time. His parents actually make it quite easy for them, leaving the two alone at the house while they head off on a trip. Soon, though, Bobby and Terry have to deal with a somewhat obsessive ex-boyfriend of Terry’s who keeps turning up and bothering her. All the while, sex-crazed Jack continues to struggle to lose his virginity. Eventually, Bobby’s father, who has already told Terry that he wants to sleep with her, notices the relationship. Rather than, oh I don’t know…firing her, he informs his son of the bonus situation which leads to a rift in the student teacher relationship.
It’s kind of strange watching this movie today. I mean, back in 1983 the filmmakers were probably thinking this is a classic teenage boy’s fantasy. Hot for Teacher…right? But in our world today, I guess there have been way too many news stories involving twentysomething teachers bumpin’ uglies with their teenage students. So the whole thing takes on a bit creepier vibe. It certainly doesn’t help that the love story between Bobby and Terry is actually played pretty straight…complete with a sappy song about “the first time we make love.”
A big problem with the film is that the lead character, Bobby, is just so bland. The character has no real depth. He speaks in a monotone and barely shows any emotion throughout the whole film. Caren Kaye is a bit more interesting as Terry, but given that Bobby is such a drab character, we spend much of the film wondering what she even sees in him. Most of the attempts at comedy come through Crispen Glover’s character…but he’s just plain not funny in this. Every 80’s teen sex comedy had to have its obnoxious horndog character, I guess I just had a hard time accepting Crispen Glover, of all people, in that role. He’s not quite as obnoxious as Bubba from “Private School,” but he comes close. I will give some props to Kevin McCarthy, though, who excels at playing jerks and is a perfect fit as Bobby’s self-absorbed father.
What few laughs we do get from “My Tutor” are unintentional. The soundtrack of the film has not aged well, especially the ridiculous poppy title song. The overdose of spandex and leg warmers that we get as we watch Terry’s exercise class at the film’s opening is also good for some cheesy nostalgia. That’s certainly not enough to sustain this film.
Even the crudest and most revolting 80’s teen sex comedies usually have at least a few funny moments. “My Tutor,” however, is a pretty weak entry for the genre. Perhaps the filmmakers needed tutor from the school of comedy.