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  Fraternity Vacation Holiday RockBuy this film here.
Year: 1985
Director: James Frawley
Stars: Stephen Geoffreys, Sheree J. Wilson, Cameron Dye, Leigh McCloskey, Tim Robbins, Matt McCoy, Amanda Bearse, John Vernon, Nita Talbot, Barbara Crampton, Kathleen Kinmont, Max Wright, Julie Payne, Franklyn Ajaye, Charles Rocket, Britt Ekland
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Wendell Tvedt (Stephen Geoffreys) wouldn't necessarily call himself a nerd, but others might, though he's not going to let that hold him back, especially not over the next few days because this week is Spring Break, and he is joining two of his college buddies to visit Palm Springs for some vacation time. Or are they joining him? After all, he is the one with the place to stay, a central property overlooking the beach where he, Joe (Cameron Dye) and Mother (Tim Robbins) will stay in the hope they can get lucky with the ladies, though Wendell is a lot more innocent in that respect than his fellow students. They bid his wealthy pig-farming parents farewell at the airport and head for the sun - but they do not bargain on the wager.

Well, Wendell doesn't bargain on the wager because he has nothing to do with it, but the other two do, as with many an eighties sex comedy there was an element of gambling involved, be it monetary or otherwise. In this case, our dubious heroes meet up with college rivals (also rich) Chas (Leigh McCloskey) and J.C. (Matt McCoy) who bet Joe and Mother they cannot bed a young lady who lives in the apartment opposite, though it is never explained why she has chosen to attend the beach alone and has no friends that we can see. She is Ashley (future Dallas star Sheree J. Wilson) and the supposed nice guys have been spying on her through their camera's zoom lens.

Actually, Ashley gets a fairly raw deal out of the movie until the very end, because basically she has the choice of Joe or Chas forcing themselves on her, so we turn to Wendell to get an idea of how a gentleman should behave. Sort of, as he is encouraged by his pals (after a makeover for guys at local boutiques) to chat up Nicole Ferret (Geoffreys' soon-to-be co-star in Fright Night Amanda Bearse) in a club and after blurting out a crass line she thinks he's demonstrating a sense of humour and warms to him immediately. They spend a night of him doing Wayne Newton impersonations in bed rather than anything the others might have gotten up to, and you're warming to Wendell yourself, albeit with reservations at the painful slapstick the movie has him carry out.

There was also an appearance by two B-movie Queens as the privileged baddies' hangers-on, step forward Barbara Crampton and Kathleen Kinmont, who got to take part in the most talked about scene where they pretend to be interested in Joe and Mother, only it's a prank and they're leading them up the garden path. All very well, but that jape does involve them stripping off their bikinis (they take each other's off, oddly) and being completely nude, so how exactly was the joke on those guys when they may not have had their wicked way with the ladies, but they did get to see them starkers? Such is the weird logic of the genre, of which Fraternity Vacation was a typical if not particularly hilarious example, more likely to raise a small chuckle at best.

That said, Chas's ostentatious entrance to impress Ashley by skydiving into the pool she is sitting beside and then strutting around claiming to be plugging his sexual advice book was quite something if you think about it, and looked the most expensive scene in the movie, but director James Frawley (who got his start with The Monkees, then later helmed The Muppet Movie) had a confident way that suggested he was aware this wasn't the best script he had ever worked on, but he was going to make the most of it anyway. That may have been the case, but Lindsay Harrison's efforts on the screenplay did point to a more humane streak than earlier scenes such as Ashley being spied on naked from the shower and even having photos taken suggested. In fact, in between brushes with hardnosed police chief John Vernon this had a welcome denouement that was pretty goodnatured, with everyone learning their lesson or receiving their just rewards, depending on how they had behaved. What Britt Ekland was doing there is anyone's guess, however. Music by Brad Fiedel.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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