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  Class Generation GapBuy this film here.
Year: 1983
Director: Lewis John Carlino
Stars: Jacqueline Bisset, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Cliff Robertson, Stuart Margolin, John Cusack, Alan Ruck, Rodney Pearson, Remak Ramsay, Virginia Madsen, Deborah Thalberg, Fern Persons, Casey Siemaszko, Aaron Douglas, Anna Maria Horsford, Joan Cusack
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: It's the first day at prep school for Jonathan (Andrew McCarthy), and after bidding his parents a fond farewell he ends up at the establishment where he has only been admitted because of his high scores on his SATs - almost every other pupil at the boys' school is there thanks to having well off parents. When he gets to his room, he finds his roommate Skip (Rob Lowe) is there to greet him, but he's wearing women's underwear and telling him it's related to the initiation that all freshmen go through, so what is he waiting for? Get those bra and knickers on!

Apparently Jonathan is the most gullible fellow in the universe, and in truth his behaviour throughout the rest of the movie doesn't exactly speak to an overabundance of common sense. But it was humiliation which fuelled the plot, and it may have started with Jonathan stuck outside in full view of everyone wearing the ladies' undergarments supplied by Skip, with the latter roaring with laughter at the success of his prank, but it went further than that. At the time this was released, the film everyone mentioned was The Graduate, and that was due to the role Jacqueline Bisset took as the attractive older woman who would welcome Jonathan into the ways of manhood.

This happens after he has been banned from ever socialising with the girls from the other school, thanks to causing chaos at a supposedly polite meeting in their head's office which saw her getting showered in cream, and Virginia Madsen making a memorable debut as the girl whose blouse gets ripped open to reveal all. Earlier she had suffered McCarthy vomiting on her in a car, but we all have to start somewhere. More humiliation, see? Anyway, one thing leads to another and Skip treats Jonathan to a night out alone in Chicago with a fifty dollar bill, but he continues to act the klutz in his endeavours to get laid at last so that it seems all hope is lost. Then Bisset's Ellen spots him being pranked - again! What is it with these people?! - in a bar and goes over to mother him.

Soon she is smothering him too, seducing the boy in a lift and taking him back to her place for a long weekend that leads his friends back in the dorm to start to worry where he's gotten to, until he appears in the doorway with his trophy: Ellen's underwear. Now Jonathan is the toast of the school, and better yet his new friend wants to see him again, but the mood cannot stay sunny for long, as when she takes him to a tailor's to spruce up his outfits, she notices that in his wallet it says he's effectively still at school and flees the scene. The reason for that is revealed about an hour in to the plot, that's two thirds of it, so it should have been a big surprise, but for some reason the producers saw fit to blab it all over the advertising, so much so that everyone would have spotted it.

Which did have the audience waiting for the characters to catch up with what we already new, but basically it was back to making them feel as badly as possible when Jonathan visits Skip's family for the holidays at their mansion. Skip's father (Cliff Robertson) is a self-made man and keen to hear about Jonathan's entry to Harvard, but his mother is... well, his mother is Ellen, to both lovers' shock. Yes, this was very contrived, but this was the era when the American soaps on TV were getting as glossy as possible, and Class had a narrative which could have fitted into a few episodes of Dynasty, with Bisset interchangeable with the sort of part Joan Collins might have embraced. But Ellen is not so bitchy as Alexis, and ends up emotionally damaged, as everyone does to some extent, offering a fairly glum lump of melodrama for a supposed comedy which wasn't very funny in the first place. They didn't have the courage of the whole "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" premise. Maybe it wasn't cool after all. Music by Elmer Bernstein.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Lewis John Carlino  (1932 - )

American writer, a respected playwright who made a striking film debut with science fiction shocker Seconds. He also scripted The Fox, crime dramas The Brotherhood, Charles Bronson thriller The Mechanic and Crazy Joe, horror Reflection of Fear, mental illness story I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, and spiritual fantasy Resurrection. As a director, he adapted Mishima's The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, which he followed up with father/son drama The Great Santini, and "Is this the same guy?" sex comedy Class.

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