Senior Week

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Our film today caused a bit of controversy back in the late 80’s. It’s opening scene, a dream sequence, features a high school student in a classroom full of female students…several of whom end up topless. The sexy teacher also ends up sans clothing. The scene was filmed at an actual high school…Palisades Park High School. Basically, the principal of the school didn’t realize what sort of movie would be filmed at his school and it eventually led to him being suspended by the school board. The story showed up in the New York Times and the TV tabloid A Current Affair.  The film in question: 1987’s Senior Week.

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As you may have figured out from the title, it’s Senior Week. At this school that seems to mean that classes are done, but there’s still a week until graduation. One problem, Everett (Michael St. Gerard) is failing Miss Bagley’s (Barbara Gruen) class. She gives him one last chance, write an essay by the end of the week or fail. Everett’s answer to this is to kidnap the school nerd, Jody (Gary Kerr) and hop in his car with his two buddies (one a jock, one portly, of course) and head for Florida. While the three buddies party, Jody will write the paper.

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The boys barely get down to the sunshine state before Miss Bagley realizes what’s going on and decides to head down to find Everett. One of Everett’s pals, Jamie (George Klek) is also having problems because his girlfriend Tracy (Jennifer Gorey) has decided to head down to Florida with a friend to chase him down. The girl’s end up staying with some redneck relatives, including cousin Debbie Sue (Devon Skye), who eventually hooks up with the nerd Jody. Basically all these people spend most of the movie acting like jerks before a big stupid chase at the end.

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Despite the film’s controversial opening scene, the movie is not near as raunchy as many similarly themed 80’s teens comedies. I use the term “teen” lightly here as all these “seniors” look like they’re at least 27 years old. Most of the late night cable moments come courtesy of dream sequences. I can’t help but wonder if maybe some video distributor said, “I’ll put out your flick, but it needs more boobs.” Easiest way to do that…dream sequence.

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Much of the movie is pretty forgettable. I think in large part this is because most of the main characters are complete jerks. I wouldn’t want to share a counter at the Waffle House with them let alone a week in Florida. Which, by the way, everybody in this movie just refers to where they are going as “Florida.” Not Daytona…not Ft. Lauderdale…not Miami. When Miss Bagley goes to buy a plane ticket to chase down Everett she storms the counter and asks to buy a ticket to Florida. ‘Cause, you know, there’s only one airport in Florida!?!?

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There were a few bright spots in all this dreck. I actually found the two nerdy characters, Jody and Debbie Sue, to be kind of funny. I must just be some sort of simple minded idiot because it’s not like these two are the height of comedic brilliance. Still, the sight of these two taking a whipped cream bath made me chuckle. Perhaps there was just so few other moments of humor that I was grasping for what little I could get.

Of course, I was not expecting much out of this film to start with. The fact that I even cracked a hint of a smile during it is an achievement. There are many 80’s teen beach comedies out there, but it’s hard to do worse than Senior Week.

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