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  Losin' It Tijuana BrassnecksBuy this film here.
Year: 1983
Director: Curtis Hanson
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jackie Earle Haley, John Stockwell, John P. Navin Jr, Shelley Long, Henry Darrow, Hector Elias, Daniel Faraldo, Mario Marcellino, Rick Rossovich, James Victor, Kale Browne, Enrique Castillo, Cornelio Hernandez, Hector Morales, Joe Spinell
Genre: Comedy
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: This is going to be the trip of a lifetime! These four teens are heading off to Tijuana for the weekend, with the express wish that they will lose their virginities to a Mexican lady or four - what could possibly go wrong? For a start, make that three teens, for they're one man down when one of their number tells them the day they're supposed to go he can't make it because his parents won't let him. What was he doing telling his parents in the first place, they ask incredulously, but their leader Dave (Jackie Earle Haley) demands they don't back down now...

Of course, it wasn't Mr Haley who would be best remembered for this movie even though it was he who stole the show acting-wise among the teens, it was a certain Mr Tom Cruise, in this, the least regarded of the works he starred in during 1983, which saw him blitz cinemas in a charm offensive. Watching his shy, retiring (wooden) performance here you could scarcely believe he was the same overconfident smart alec who was seduced by Rebecca De Mornay in Risky Business, though here he was paired off with another sizzling sex siren of the eighties, er, Shelley Long. Not that Miss Long was unappealing in her way, but she was a broad hint at the real tone here.

The theme song blasts "We're losin' it! We're using it! Abusing it!" (huh?), yet as if the moralists got the better of screenwriter Bill L. Norton (a director in his own right) the manner in which Losin' It unfolded was to foil the teens' plans at just about every turn, throwing their sex obsession back in their faces, though not quite as unpleasantly as that sounded. Also notable was Curtis Hanson at the helm, soon to be a medium-sized name in Hollywood mostly with his thrillers, though his efforts with this could not have been further from guiding L.A. Confidential over ten years later. The laughs they aimed for were nothing sophisticated, though there was a curious streak of sentimentality to be seen.

Mainly with Cruise's character Woody, who leaves his chaste girlfriend behind in a strop when she finds out his friends' schemes, and is clearly having second thoughts throughout. Shelley fit into this when they go shoplifting at a store on the way to Mexico, and she is Kathy, the owner's wife who is having a huge argument with her husband, crashes the van trying to get away, then barges into the boys' car and orders them to drive off with her. On hearing Mexico is their destination, she thinks she can get a divorce there and after expressing outrage about the stolen goods, the five of them - Dave, Woody, Kathy, Spider (John Stockwell - he became a director too) and Dave's kid brother Wendell (John P. Navin) - are setting out for adventure in a sixties setting.

Now, Tijuana back then had a reputation for being a hive of debauchery for American tourists looking for a good time, which is what the boys are counting on, but the film was dead set on teaching them a lesson to show them the error of their ways. So there were moves towards the decadent, the odd stripper glimpsed here and there, a section devoted to whores, that urban myth about a seedy bar's floorshow including a woman having sex with a donkey, but not much amounted to anything, as if Hanson and his team got cold feet. In fact, Dave spends most of his time trying to track down Spanish Fly and getting into trouble in the process, his more sensible little brother in tow, and Spider gets thrown in prison by Henry Darrow of The High Chapparal fame. Only Woody gets anywhere with the actual goal, and that's with wholesome Kathy, which must have been imparting some kind of message about waiting for the right girl, but given Kathy was already married and ten years older than Woody, to call this confused would be accurate. What it wasn't was funny. Music by Kenneth Wannberg.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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