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  Lucas Such Good Friends
Year: 1986
Director: David Seltzer
Stars: Corey Haim, Kerri Green, Charlie Sheen, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Winona Ryder, Tom Hodges, Ciro Poppiti, Guy Boyd, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Wixted, Emily Seltzer, Erika Leigh, Annie Ryan, Jason Alderman, Tom Mackie, Garrett M. Brown, Lucy Butler, Gary Cole
Genre: Comedy, Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Lucas Bligh (Corey Haim) is a bright fourteen-year-old whose passion is insects, and now that the seventeen year cycle of the local locusts is underway again, he has something to occupy his mind during the school summer holidays. That is until one day when he catches sight of new girl in town Maggie (Kerri Green), who is practicing her tennis game against the wall of the court, and they strike up a conversation. They are both looking for company, and over the rest of the vacation they become firm friends, in spite of their two year age difference, but what Lucas doesn't know is that it will not last...

Not the way he wants it to anyway. But isn't this a sweetnatured coming of age movie from the writer of The Omen? So surely something awful will happen? Well, nothing like the Antichrist appearing on Earth, although poor Lucas will find that he has trouble getting through his life so that type of cataclysm might as well feel it has occurred to him, but writer and director David Seltzer wishes his main character to learn a lesson, not punish him. Lucas may have a major crush on Maggie, but she likes him only as a friend, no matter how close he feels they have become, so when the big brother he never had, Cappie (Charlie Sheen) enters the drama, we can see where this will go.

Not that our hero cottons on too quickly, but part of the arrangement here is that the audience is one step ahead of him emotionally. Thankfully this was no John Hughes style attempt at studied cool, so there was no scene where everyone jumps about to a pop song on the soundtrack, and no rather too pointed humour as the tone is sympathetic but realistic throughout. Haim displayed a talent that illustrated he could have fulfilled a promise that largely went dormant once he began coasting in movies which were aimed squarely at the teen audience, here essaying the misfit with some understanding, but never making him the object of outright pity as there's always a rough edge or two to his character.

For some reason Seltzer drew parallels between high school and the world of insects, so Lucas is connected to the locusts - even his name sounds like "locust" - in that he's one of those people who only happens along rarely, and at the time he is about to "hatch", his wings are still not yet formed, although this will come with time. If this sounds like stretching a metaphor too far, fortunately little about this seems laboured, as it is only in the latter stages that the drama grows hard to believe; for the most part it's a story of Lucas' disillusionment and how he feels the need to throw himself into activities which take him away from the sad realities of his background, something we only latch onto at the end.

If only Lucas would wake up a bit, he would see that he does have friends he can rely on, and even a potential girlfriend - not in Maggie, but in Rina (Winona Ryder making her debut), who admires him from afar but has never found the right time to admit it, something which is even more difficult when the boy is so wrapped up in himself that he doesn't realise. So you can see, it's all set up for a keen-eyed but warm bringing together of all these threads, which it would be except that the plot goes that bit too far over the top in bolstering the outsider hero status of Lucas. After being rejected by Maggie in favour of Cappie, though they do try to let him down gently, the kid goes into a mania involving giving up on his musical interests and joining the football team, which does not end well. Add to that a would-be inspirational climax and the film would have been better sticking to subtle, but it's nicely done for all that. Music by Dave Grusin.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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