Wednesday, August 18, 2010

PRETTY SMART (1987) - conversely, if you don't like this movie, you must be pretty dumb

here's a clip from the super extended version of the film that plays in my head

While a standard empowerment tale at its core, Revenge of the Nerds does contain a profound fortune cookie nugget if one is willing to search. Namely, the scene where the nerds stay up all night and watch live feeds of sorority girls go through their nightly routine. This includes the occasional shower, where we learn that college coeds have breasts so dirty they need to be scrubbed at least five or six times, but it mostly consists of girls brushing their teeth or sleeping. Still pretty damn hot though. Even so, you'd think they'd get bored at some point, but no. The night turns into morning, and they remain utterly fixated, not only by the feminine wiles on display, but the resolute hope that, any minute now, they will see something truly mind blowing, like a 19 year old cheerleader suddenly deciding to a nude aerobic routine.

Well, the token gay nerd enters the frat house (he also doubles as the token black nerd, a good example of screenwriting economy), asking "did you guys stay up all night?!?", incredulous at this revelatory insight into the heterosexual mind. While the gay nerd was probably having a productive morning running errands, even getting some important studying time the night before, these "normal" males spent endless hours transfixed by these hot chicks, who were (mostly) engaging in the least interesting activities imaginable. Even a male mind that supposedly exists for higher educational purposes (like programming code on one of those high tech Apple IIe's) is stopped dead in it's tracks by the feminine mystique (and the promise of bush, of course).


Pretty Smart is an all female version of Revenge of the Nerds, with an ingenious reversal. Instead of the heroes using surveillance camcorders to capture an innocent whiff of a nipple or two (well, sorta innocent), the villain in Pretty Smart (Mr. Crawley), the smug asshole dean of an all girl boarding school in Greece, is the one to use this equipment to his advantage. He rigs the dorms with cameras so he can peep in on any of these unsuspecting nubiles at any given time. What a piece of shit. Keep in mind I would probably do the exact same thing given the same opportunity, but still. He even sells tapes of the girls, and also deals coke on the side. What a pile of rich white garbage.

Our group of ultra spunky heroines not only have to deal with this asshole, but also the stuck up "preens", the privileged cunts who like to make the lives of those who are both less rich and different from them miserable. Here are a group of outcast girls fighting the system, both the heartless fist of authority and the cold judging eye of the "in crowd", who seek to try and exploit the girls while attempting to shame them into becoming sheep who dress like rich sluts, respectively.

Here is our main heroine Daphne Ziegler ("Zigs" as she is known), waking up in her awesomely quirky bedroom. Notice the giant inflatable Godzilla on the right.

She gets into trouble in spectacularly quirky fashion. She shows up to her bank job dressed as a goth hooker of sorts, and an armed robber points a gun in her face. Instead of handing over the cash, she gets up on the counter and starts stripping. Whatever helps you blow off steam in a stressful work environment, I guess.

Zigs is arrested for this transgression (I guess it's illegal to flash your bra while a bank robbery is in progress), and her parents decide to send her and her "normal" sister Jennifer to a boarding school in Greece. That is certainly not tubular in any way shape or form. Of course, I am inferring some of this, as this is mostly conveyed with a series of stills over the opening credits. I guess the filmmakers thought that nobody would really care about how the plot was setup, but I would have loved to see the full scene of Zigs dealing with the bank robber. It all seems both inexplicable yet vaguely erotic.

Here's an example of how the plot setup is explained away in a series of stills. Here is Zigs in her care free glory:

This progresses to a much more sinister form of the still photo:

And, finally, to an ironic postcard of sorts, as her sad face is superimposed over a tourist landscape of Greece:

The sisters arrive at the school, two birds of differing flocks:

Zigs is none too excited about being forced into this place, and often states to others that she plans to get out of the boarding school as soon as possible. She also dresses like a bereaved Madonna, mourning with sass. Lord what a hot look.

Free spirit Zero (Patricia Arquette) manages to cheer her up:

Joining this squad of misfits are Yuko and Torch, relegated to outsider status on account of them falling short of the caucasian ideal.

Zigs immediately starts rebelling when forced into this structured environment.

She is, after all, a total badass, bored as she is with the concept of mediocrity.

Look no further than this pendant, one of those skull bat deals. God that's fucking metal. Oh yeah...look at her goddamn outfit! If anyone has fashion balls, it's Zigs. ZOWIE!

Her outfits clash with the preens, who generally prefer the rich and slutty look. At the fore front of the group is a 19-year-old or so Julie K. Smith, soon to be Penthouse Pet and B-movie starlet (Sorceress II, Midnight Tease II, a couple of those Andy Sidaris movies).

She never looked better here, as this was pre-silicone and what have you. I mean, just look what she wears to school! How can you not love a girl like that, villain or not. She's got a see through dress, a headband, a skinny tie of sorts, and her panties are flying out. I guess she does have some sort of that individual style that the other preens lack, but as she usually struts through the film in various states of undress, it's pretty hard to notice.

Here is one such example where Julie shows off her ample talents. She dances in the nude after a shower, and Zigs bumps into her.

WAIT A SECOND! Is that a Nagel poster on the wall? I BELIEVE IT IS!

Here she does her hair and nails in the buff because, well...why not. As you may or may not know, Penthouse put out a bunch of cheesecake videos where Pets would dance to some righteous rawk song, or maybe have an erotic encounter with a David Hasselhoff lookalike, or whatever. Through sound intelligent research, I have located a clip from one of these Penthouse videos. Notice how "different" Julie looks in this clip below (oh yeah, and it's definitely NSFW).

Not that anyone would notice, but this is a film about SCHOOL, and here the girls are getting down to business.

Zigs still looks damn stylish and sexy even in study mode, chewing her pen like a feral beast.

I just noticed that the school uniform for the girls consists solely of a pink sportcoat they wear over whatever they normally wear, but with the sleeves rolled up. Forcing girls to wear rolled up pink sportcoats in school circa mid 80's is the equivalent to making all of the boys in a summer camp wear half shirts. Regardless, it's a solid look. Of course, you need teachers for this dynamic to work, and this school supplies a couple of oddballs. There's the sex ed teacher, of course:

Her presentation is called "The Penis: Friend or Foe". I guess that depends on what mood she's in. There also this other guy:

I don't quite understand the "lesson" here. I guess he's trying to tell everyone to "go fork yourself". I can sympathize with this sentiment, but does he have to SAY IT SO LOUDLY?!? There is also the "cool" teacher, a strong, beautiful female who encourages the girls to be tough, smart, and independent. She also provides a shoulder for the misfits to lean on. Of course, she gets fired. What a joke. All just because she was sunbathing with little band aids covering her nipples. I guess avoiding tan lines is wrong somehow.

The girls are rightfully upset as they watch her get shipped out of school.

Even Yuko, normally the bubbliest of the bunch, is reduced to blubbering (or, from bubs to blubs, if you prefer).

Here are a couple of stills of Yuko in her element, as portrayed by Kimberly Delfin, in her only film role.

It seems to me she could have had a successful career portraying cute, spunky Asian sidekicks.

Then again, maybe the whole "Asian-y sidekick" phenomenon turned her off from acting. Who can say really. There are also actual plot developments, like when Zigs develops a crush on a groundskeeper dude. He seems to be the only real male in the nearby vicinity, but regardless, he seems a nearly perfect fit for Zigs.

She initially scopes him out, walking by in her inimitable style, showing off clothing even Cindy Lauper wouldn't have the balls to showcase to the public.

I, for one, would be immediately taken by such a figure, bored as I am by fashion that decries fun and expression. However, he takes a bit more convincing.

They quickly talk about music. He chuffs at what's in her walkman, some techno pop he considers a product of crass commercialism. He recommends to her, get this, Public Image Limited. This is exactly what a truly cool dude, circa 1987, would be rocking out to, and not whatever pop pablum bullshit was foist upon him. He may actually be worthy of her hand, it would seem. He lets her borrow his PIL cassette, hoping to further enlighten this child of pop culture. While I can't exactly argue with his assessment, I think he could stand to learn a thing or two from Zigs and her freewheeling aesthetic.

Of course, I can't mention Public Image Limited and not share the clip of their infamous interview from the Tom Snyder Show. I reckon that this is in my short list of favorite music related interviews of all time, along with the Chris Holmes interview from Decline of Western Civilization Pt. II, and the interview with El Duce where he talks about fucking a cokehead chick and making her cry.

This situation begats further drama when Zigs' sister decides to join the preens. Fucking turncoat.

By the way, Jennifer...Bonnie Tyler called. She wants her hair back. Also...the jerk store called. They are upset that your jerkface freelancing ways are cutting into their bottom line. They are a "company" after all, as John Lyndon laid out previously. Either way, your soulless ways are taking its toll on your sister. Well, Zigs still manages to go about her quirky business. Here, she pisses off the preens by pretending to be knocked up.

They are extremely annoyed by this incorrigible display, incapable of understanding humor, these preens are.

The "subs", on the other hand, don't construct their lives on a base of unchecked self esteem. They are therefore able to laugh at themselves and their own. It's called a "sense of humor".

I should've mentioned that Zigs and friends are labeled "subs", as in "subhuman". I guess anyone that fails to meet the preens standard of being rich and made of plastic aren't even worthy of being called human. That kinda reminds me of another group. Hmmm...oh yeah, they were called Nazis! AND THEY PRACTICALLY WIPED AN ENTIRE NATION OF PEOPLE OFF THE EARTH, JUST LIKE YOUR CIGARETTES ARE DOING NOW!!! Well, to lighten things up, Zigs jumps out of a cake during an awesome party.

She finds herself surrounded by grade A beef, but manages to enjoy yourself while not being swept up by carnal surfaces.

Instead, she is, most of all, a music fan, swept up by the house band, while bringing a goth style rooted in FUN, and not in sad bastard heroin whatever.

Who can blame her, what with this "musician" busting out the synth chords on a "wave 2.3". Fucking technology is awesome.

The other girls are also enjoying this entire scene. Free spirits as they may be, they don't quite have the balls nor ingenuity to come up with the patented antics Zigs seems to dial up.

Of course, any film of this ilk will have a "girls just wanna have fun" montage. Here Zigs kicks things off in her typically quippy fashion, yelling out "SCHOOLGIRLS FROM HELL!", in fist pumping unison.

They go montage balls out, shuffling across Grecian ruins, defying these ancestral societies with a new world order of new wave spunk.

Even Zigs gets in on the beach babe action, an area normally reserved for the vacuous. She manages to supply several witticisms, while still delivering in the hotness department. "Cool is the rule", she utters to her cohorts.

A hot piece of beefcake catches the eye of Zigs (and every warm blooded female in the vicinity).

"YOWZA!", their loins cry out. Stand and attention, girls...stand and attention.

Of course, once the female populace finds out that he is a lifeguard, they feign drowning, hoping to be rescued by this robust figure of mulleted masculinity.

"White chicks!", comments Zigs to Torch. Yes, only a lame honky girl would resort to drowning herself to be saved by a hunky lifeguard. It's all a bit too forward. After all, "cool is the rule".

This montage gives us a sense of these "subhumans" empowering themselves through fun and free expression.

The film also supplies several inserts of topless women, like her:

And her...

Here's one more. I guess not everybody watching the movie is going to be enthralled by the girls feeling empowered and expressing themselves, or by Zigs' verbal wit, so instead they get some tits to stare at. Finally a montage to please everyone!

Zero also finds a cute statue in a gift shop, what looks to be a minotaur with a hard on. I guess giant monster cocks are humorous to most people, but this mostly just frightens me, to be honest.

Later, the girls throw Zigs a surprise birthday party. Hmmm...I wonder what presents await her?



Her sister also gets her some gold razor blade earrings. While not the greatest gift in the world, more importantly, it's Jennifer's way of saying that she is ditching the preens and joining forces with the Zigmeister once again. I take everything back about her being a jerkface ripoff of Bonnie Tyler. TIME TO DANCE!

Unfortunately, the rest of the preens continue to watch on with a judgmental stare. Mr. Crawley later breaks up the fun. I guess he believes that the girls only exist to be exploited and to finish their school work, in that order. Fun is not part of the curriculum, it seems. Fucking fun police.

So, to get back at him, the subs decide to investigate his office. They are quite shocked to find a vast network of video cameras used to take secret footage of the girls at the school.

They learn that the school is a farce, just a front for a series of reality cam VHS tapes of girls doing everday stuff. For example, the brushing of teeth:

The full cleansing of the body:

My personal favorite: lingerie boxing. I'm unsure of the scoring format here, though. Is it a 10 point must system? Or, maybe they use Golden Gloves rules. I'm just not sure.

Of course, there's lingerie aerobics. There's no reason you can't get a workout in before you get your beauty sleep. None whatsoever.

Well, the girls alert the preens, and they decide to join forces to fight the TRUE scum of the earth. This entire time, the preens and subs were at each other's throats, while a rich white asshole was secretly profiting off of them behind closed doors. They come up with a plan of attack. While the dean is showing off live footage to several "clients", they decide to turn this sexy footage into a series of horrors.

Here, Julie is having sex with a dude. Standard operating procedure, you ask? Well, she starts suffocating the dude with her ass. That's NOT normal!

The subs then dress up all scary like and attack a girl, making faces into the "secret" camera.

Others follow suit. These clients were expecting everyday footage of sexy schoolgirls, and not sexy schoolgirls wearing plastic fangs knowingly staring into the lens. His business model crumbles, and his clients bail. I for one would've been happy either way. Well, the subs confront Mr. Crawley:

Surely, he has broken a couple of laws with this camera setup, but they also reveal that they have footage that proves him to be a coke dealer. YOU'RE GOIN' UPSTATE PAL! I hope you like your rape big and black.

Finally, a Vietnamese hooker with STYLE! Oh wait, it's Yuko again. She's smiling because her squad is victorious. Also, I dig the chain necklace. Really I do.

Zero celebrates by doing her "Yahoo Serious getting a crank call from Yakoff Smirnoff" routine. This one gets me every time:

-"In Russia, I wait in line long time for loaf of bread. I wait so long I die of hunger. In America, they give you free pussy and beer. I LOVE AMERICA!!!"

-"How many times do I have to tell you, I'M AUSTRALIAN MATE!!!!"

Here are the girls, teaming up to give fuckface a final farewell, dripping with sarcasm as it is. I should've known he was evil with a name like Crawley. Ozzy, I think, put it best (Crowley, Crawley...close enough):

Finally, everything comes together. Zigs is no longer held captive by her anger, a freak forced to the outskirts of happiness. She is practically glowing with confidence:

Not only does she bond once again with her sister, but she hooks up with her dream man:

The strong female teacher is hired as the new dean for the school. Not only that, but the uncle of Zigs' new boyfriend offers them a lease on some living quarters for the mere price of four goats a year (?!?). I guess that's how the Greeks do business. And I thought our economy was fucked.

Either way, it's fucking victory all the way around. Sweet, sweet victory. Remember don't win no only lose the gold. ZIGS 4-EVER!!!


  1. Great post! I've been meaning to check this movie out. Good thing your post reminded me. Love how you added the John Lydon interview and Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley" in between.

  2. @Morgan
    Yeah I thought it was cool that the hip guy mentions that he listens to PIL. You would more expect him being a fan of The Fixx or something, in a movie this thoroughly 80's. The movie rocks, although it feels kinda short (80 mins). It feels like scenes were cut out, so maybe there's a longer version out there. Well...thanks!

  3. @M.
    Not quite, but I am pretty smart though. D'OH!

    Thanks for reading.