Saturday, July 17, 2010

OUT OF BOUNDS (1986) - a movie about Jenny Wright's hair and some other stuff or whatever

here is an early role for Jenny in a Yello video, portraying a stylish object of 80's coke fueled desire

Anthony Michael Hall is an underrated actor if there ever was one. He completely and thoroughly embodied the 80's nerd, yet was probably knee deep in cocaine and pussy throughout the era, rather than programming his calculator watch like most people suspected. That's what's known in the acting business as "hiding your technique".

Anyway, here he plays a similarly geeky farm boy, fleeing for the hip neon excitement of Hollywood. The trip turns dangerous when Anthony accidentally grabs a suitcase filled with 7,000 kilos of heroin (one of those typical airport baggage mix-ups). Anthony is going to be staying with his brother, but his plan hits a bump in the road when an evil drug dealer murders him. The police suspect Anthony was responsible. He must've flown into L.A. to live with his brother, the only person he knows in the area, and then shot him for no reason. I guess. So, he is forced to flee from both the dumbass oinkers and a drug dealer, and does so by (quickly) touring Hollywood circa mid-80's, transforming into a street smart bad ass along the way. This tour is guided by aspiring actress Jenny Wright, embodying a particularly L.A. brand of stylish 80's quirk.

He notices this exotic specimen, this stylishly sleek force of nature, and immediately imagines having sex with her in the washroom. What a way to join the mile high club, even if only imagined:

Awkwardly, his fantasy is broken up by her physical manifestation, but she turns out to be quite outgoing and personable, eager to converse with a lame looking stranger on a plane (unlike myself, who avoids so much as eye contact when flying). She mentions where she works, and also that she acts on the side, appearing in such hits as "Massacre in Blood City" and "Cycle Sluts From Hell". I'm unaware of the former, but the latter must've been awesome enough to inspire the early nineties gimmick band of the same name. Their music isn't remotely interesting, but this video is pretty righteous, and probably the sole reason for their "success":

After Anthony grabs the heroin and finds his brother dead, he visits the coffee shop where Jenny works. Like every waitress in Hollywood (and every stripper, for that matter), it's only a stopgap on her path to stardom:

She hates having to deal with schmucks on their power lunches (power schmucks, I guess), so she instead decides to join Anthony on his little adventure. Meanwhile, there is some subplot involving the evil dealer and some junkie chick. I wasn't really paying attention, as the girl's apartment had this awesomely distracting Joan Jett poster:

So, Jenny invites Hall over to her Hollywood Hills pad, which sorta looks like what would result if an adobe townhouse licked a toad:

Jenny wears a bodacious leather jacket with "rocket" written out in sequins, perhaps predicting her career arc (or maybe a heavy metal tribute to the Space Shuttle Challenger). She also has a pronounced penguin fetish (or possibly...oh wait, no, it's definitely a penguin fetish):

Notice her tiger striped tights above. Her external style perfectly fits with the interior of her pad:

Which corresponds to the interior of her car:

Beauty and personal style integrate with vehicle and home, all extensions of her inner personality. Well, Jenny notices a creepy sketch of Anthony on T.V. and quickly becomes worried:

After a heart to heart, she believes his far fetched story about wayward heroin and the chaos it hath wrought, and so begins their parade through Hollywood. At this point, both Anthony and the plot become ciphers to Jenny and her unique beauty (and her hair, of course):

I don't know about you, but my eye/brain is not directed towards the back of Michael Hall's head (or the inside of his head). Well, you may remember Jenny from Near Dark, probably her definitive role, where she twisted her "Nagel girl with curves and cheekbones" structure into a couture farm girl vampire of sorts:

Later, in Young Guns II, she expanded this western-esque motif to an actual western (well, a sorta western):

This scene is reminiscent of a scene early in her career, where she also used a nudity motif. The film is The Wall, and she's the one wearing pink hot pants.

Back to the movie, where the suspense of...JESUS H. CHRIST LOOK AT THAT HAIR!!!

Here the light hits it from a different angle. Good lord she rocks. Well...I lost my train of thought.

Oh yeah, they're running around Hollywood, staying one step ahead of the fuzz/cartel, bumping into curious locals along the way, including Stiles from Teen Wolf (an 80's stamp of approval if there ever was one). Here they bump into a metal chick at a local record store:

The whole thing is a wonderful portrayal of L.A. style, filmed in wide angles, canted and askew, the camera roving and gliding. Here, the interior of a club captures the So-Cal smog and sun as dance floor aesthetic:

Of course, their are also the primary colors, both fluorescent and neon. Here is a shot worthy of Wong Kar-Wai (or, maybe more to the point, Christopher Doyle):

This particular club is the perfect place for Siouxsie Sioux and crew to bust out no less than "Cities in Dust":

Along with this Siouxsie track, the soundtrack hits the then zeitgeist on the head with tracks by The Cult, The Lords of the New Church, The Smiths, and, uh...Night Ranger. Oh well, close enough. Anyway, Jenny is not yet a fixture of the silver screen, but she is a star through her own physical manifestation, reflecting the style of the city in ways a real star would never be able to do. She even predates clothing irony by wearing a yellow raincoat in a desert town that very rarely sees precipitation:

Well, they have to plan out how they are going to navigate this town whilst being hunted from opposing camps. While Jenny was initially a tag along , the unlikely pair quickly become a team:

As an unforgiving world closes in, they huddled together in the dark, finding solace and strength in each other:

They become separated at one point, so they fight to reunite, instinctively knowing that they need each other. The stress of the situation and lingering concern over Anthony's well being, amongst deeper concerns, starts eating away at Jenny's usually bubbly and confident exterior:

Later, Anthony prowls through a club searching for Jenny. He thinks he finds her, only to notice that it is in fact some other girl with similar hair. I guess Ms. Wright's trendsetting style is sweeping the land:

It isn't until he notices a special pair of legs, showcasing a singular pairing of leotard and shoe, that he feels safe again:

Her warm smile becomes a welcome home for this nomad lost in a chaotic new land:

They embrace rapturously, momentarily freeing themselves from the uncaring grip of a bureaucratic society that wants to destroy them for crimes they didn't commit:

This eccentric tour guide is looking more and more like a neon angel, on the road to ruin, perhaps. However, they find strength in numbers...two, to be exact. They wisely head for the hills of Hollywoodland, escaping the crushing fist of the city while looming above it, as if mocking their pursuers. They finally get to celebrate each other's company with a picnic, ironically lit by the cold skyscrapers that exclude such social misfits:

Finding themselves alone, they are able to finally confide in one another. She admits that she lied about being in those movies. So, if he were to rent a VHS copy of "Cycle Sluts From Hell", he's going to be gravely disappointed that not a single one of these sluts was fleshed out with the thespian grace of a Jenny Wright. She also admits that, despite coming across as hip and connected, nobody really knows her. As she puts it, "I've been alone in this city for a long time":

She may express the L.A. zeitgeist better than anyone, but she is, ironically, disconnected from the surrounding populace, where as Anthony is an outsider, unwelcome from word go. These two lost souls, unable to connect with others, find solace in each other. They embrace as two angels fluttering in the night, soaring above a neon metropolis:

As they kiss, they dematerialize, two spirits detached from the physical realm. Their molecules sway together, a serenade traversing a moonlit sky...

Radiating and fading away...

Fading...fading away...


  1. If you Google "Yello" and "Jenny Wright" this entry is at the top of the list.

    Oh, and what a beautiful tribute to Jenny Wright in Out of Bounds. The part where you talk about her "special pair of legs" brought a tear to my eye.

  2. @Yum
    So, I won at google? That's pretty fucking big.

    You didn't really cry did you? Pussy! :P No, thanks...that's lovely. ;)

  3. Nah, the tear was strictly metaphysical or metaphorical... well, it was meta-something.

    Oh, and the reason I'm here, yet again, is because I just watched Jenny Wright get hit on by a poofy-haired Rick Moranis for ninety plus minutes in The Wild Life, and it reminded me that I need to get my shit together and watch me some Out of Bounds.

  4. @Yummage
    Meta-tear were a pretty good liquid techno band from the early nineties. I have their demo because I like to hold my hipness over others.

    I haven't seen The Wild Life, but I earmarked on Youtube. I thought you wrote that Rick hit her. That is mean. Honey, I blew up your face.