Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) I’m not sure if I would still rate this, as I have before, as the best teen movie of the 1980s – and I wonder if that has anything to do with age. After all, I’ve long since passed the point where I identify more with the dad (the movie’s best character, by the way – his showdown with Keith over the missing money is phenomenal) than with the kids. I also find Amanda the true hero of the story these days; Keith and Watts have their own journeys of self-discovery, true (and the film is quite honest about the selfish nature of both characters, a brave writing move on Hughes’ part), but it’s the popular girl who learns to stand alone who makes the greatest change and is, as such, the most interesting to watch.
Pump Up the Volume (1990) Just as Some Kind of Wonderful made a huge impact when I first saw it at age thirteen, Pump Up the Volume did even more permanent damage to my young self at age sixteen. It stands as a sort of Gen-X manifesto, Christian Slater’s Hard Harry spitting into words the “everything’s wrong” vibe that hung over even the happiest teens in the Reagan-Bush years. Which brings me to: Does the film really need its “expelled students” subplot? On one hand, I say yes, as it helps put a face on the ennui and acts a target for the script’s rage, allowing the story to have an eventual focus. (And the script is never subtle, so the obviousness of turning the vagueness of a generational sour mood into a reality of corrupt school officials is par for the course.) On the other hand, the whole movie is about rallying against an unspecified anti-Baby Boomer angst, and turning that angst into something tangible goes against the very theme of the movie. Decades later, I still can’t decide which answer is correct.
Here Comes the Boom (2012) The problem with Here Comes the Boom is that you’d probably never get such a peculiar premise outside of a Happy Madison production, yet it would require making this movie outside Sandler & Co.’s presence to turn it into something worthy of such peculiarity. As it stands, the movie is a mostly stale pile of floppy faux-inspirational beats and softball character work, and not even Kevin James’ earnestness (I sincerely believe the guy deserves better) and a handful of surprisingly decent fight sequences (most notably the lengthy finale, the best scene in the film) can salvage the darn thing.