Monday, October 18, 2010

Not Cutting Footloose (1984)

Truth be told, if I’d lived in that Footloose town, their dancing ban wouldn’t have given me much heartache. Without high school dances, I’m sure there was somewhere else to get beer-soaked shoes and Mötley Crüe-induced hearing loss. 
However, it would’ve been difficult to re-create a frequent coup d'état from the junior high dance years. And that was my knack for snagging the ideal dance partner upon hearing just the first three notes of “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” In particular, the extended version.

You didn’t want to be sidelined or stuck with just anybody during this 10-minute slice of slow-dance nirvana. I should send singer Bonnie Tyler a thank you note.
My dance partner of choice in seventh grade was a girl who'd suddenly and quite noticeably become a strobe light on the radar of every junior high male, having previously hidden under large oval glasses and an intimidating aptitude for math.
I'm convinced puberty and contact lenses could knock Earth off its axis.
For a brief window of time before she exclusively dated guys with beards, this blossoming young woman was my date to a church Valentine’s banquet, and personal Ginger Rogers for Anything Melodramatic Top 40. Let’s hear it for the boy!
“Boy,” in this case, was dead-on. Because my height did not come early. Hers, however, arrived by expedited shipping.
At thirteen, I was still physically eleven. And it wasn’t helpful that any clothing purchased for me during this time still featured "room to grow."
At one particular dance, I was wearing a button-down Ralph Lauren Polo Oxford shirt featuring sleeves that extended to my knuckles. Yet it didn't stop me from landing my partner of choice. Leaving the dance floor expecting a high-five from a classmate envious of my prowess, I instead was met with a stingingly accurate “You looked like you were dancing with your mom!”

Right about that time is when I stopped enjoying dances.
For me, overall, a dance ban would've been like hearing the news that junior high coaches could no longer divide gym class teams into “shirts” and “skins.” (Was I ever a “shirt?”) 
In hindsight, I should’ve embraced my perennial winning of this Skins Lottery. Today, I imagine it would've been funny to get a series of creepy, temporary tattoos. Then when my inevitable fate was cast in gym class, I'd peel off my shirt, produce a cigarette out of my armpit, and mutter “Let’s do this, ladies.” That's a bit I could have embraced in exchange for exposing my inebriated, pasty white frame.

Ah, but we were talking about dancing.

And Footloose. 

You may recall that "Total Eclipse" singer Bonnie Tyler also had a big hit on the Footloose soundtrack? I think we're done here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Comparing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to Tim Vanderburg’s Day Off

If you look at the lukewarm reviews from 1986, you'll see that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has slowly risen to classic status over the past two decades. And deservedly so.
What stands out in my theater-viewing memory is how much my classmate John liked it, grinning with anticipation throughout the movie. Come to think of it, he also did that during The Thing (1982).
I didn’t actually see The Thing with John. But we did once watch Firefox (1982) at his grandparents’ house. On a laserdisc player. With a laser.

Some things you should know:
Fact! The couple playing Ferris’s parents met during filming, dated, and eventually married.
Fact! Matthew Broderick started dating Jennifer Grey, his movie sister, during filming.
Fact! I listened to the John Hughes DVD commentary.

So ... did Ferris Bueller inspire you to skip school? 

He didn’t have that effect on me. Mainly because living in a town that you could circumnavigate in 9 minutes didn’t afford many opportunities for memorable truancy. 
Seriously, If I had skipped school with one of my geeky friends (take your pick) along with my uber-hot girlfriend (epic work of fiction), what would I have done, anyway?

Here are a few ideas:
Comparing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to Tim Vanderburg’s Day Off

A smooth elevator ride to the skydeck of The Sears Tower
A rickety ladder climb to the top of a water tower

A bird’s eye perspective of the Chicago Stock Exchange
A steer butt's view of a livestock auction

An intimate surveying of Georges-Pierre Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte at the Art Institute of Chicago
A reading of the graffiti at Lake Rita Blanca spillway

Fine dining at the exquisite French restaurant, Che Quis
The drive-thru at Hardee’s

A Cubs game (with a foul ball caught!) at Wrigley Field
Nearly getting caught by Spanish teacher, Mrs. Field

Singing “Twist and Shout” to hundreds of spectators, like a king, from atop a parade float
Humming “Don't Worry, Be Happy” to four spectators at Dairy Queen, through the straw of a root beer float

Still, I probably should’ve tried all of these things at least once. I mean, there's not even a Hardee's there anymore.