Saturday, March 19, 2016
'Making the Grade' BD: The '80s Prep and the Pauper
New Unreal TV darling Olive Films continues its ongoing (including an upcoming release of the Baio/Aames classic "Zapped") Blu-ray releases of totally tubular '80s movies with the March 22, 2016 BD release of the '80stastic 1984 Judd Nelson comedy "Making the Grade." This prep and the pauper tale has Nelson as drifter Eddie Keaton (no relation to Alex P.) , who agrees to impersonate trust fund baby Palmer Woodrow at the private boys' school of last resort Hoover Academy.
The supporting cast includes '80s character actor Dana Olsen as the aforementioned one-percenter, Andrew Dice Clay as the bookie to whom Eddie is indebted, and Gordon Jump of thhe '70scom "WKRP in Cincinnati" as the Hoover Academy headmaster. Jump also playing child molester Mr. Horton in a camp classic "Diff'rent Strokes" episode provides unintentional humor regarding his being in charge of a large group of teen boys.
Revisiting this film after so many decades shows that it has every wonderful cliche of '80s films, down to the topless scene with a bimbo. There is a rocking '80s anthem, the bad boy with a sad past in Nelson, the uber-youthful exuberant rich kid in Palmer, the stuffy older folks with a hidden wild streak, and the well-groomed preppy nemesis in Biff Hamilton and his buddies. We also get the brainy and the overweight nerds.
The opening scene in which a thoroughly obnoxious Palmer gleefully wallows in the half-eaten food and copious beer cans in his otherwise luxurious bedroom further perfectly depicts the excess that made the '80s so much fun for those living the lifestyles of the rich and famous and highly entertaining for the rest of us.
Eddie predictably starts out showing his true colors in every sense of the word only to settle down and get with the program equally in every sense of that word. He finds (endangered) romance with the pretty blonde WASP, engages in Popeye-Bluto style cartoonish battles with BIff, and has his big scene at the graduation ceremony near the end of the film. The manner in which he ultimately rides off into the sunset nicely reflects both the "me" generation and the seeds of social justice that take root a decade later. In other words, no one is really transformed or otherwise wiser as the closing credit music begins playing.
On a truly deeper level, "Grade" represents the silver age of film in which there always seemed to be at least one film of interest at the cineplex. "Grade" is an entertaining and relatively enthusiastic film that provides the intended form of escapism.
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