Monday, September 6, 2010

BAD MANNERS (1984) - it's like one of those "nature run amok" movies, but with brats instead of vengeful frogs or whatever

Let’s face it. Kids are assholes. They expect their needs to be fully taken care of, while every mischievous strand that pops into their not quite fully formed noggin is a strand worth pursuing. Now, while I’m certainly one to champion a disdain for authority, doing so out of selfish idiocy is frankly just annoying. Pure self-centeredness ain’t no revolution. After all, it is mere coincidence that you are you and not someone else.

Here is a film that dares to showcase several kids that are free from the passe morality of even basic self control. In particular, the little blonde fuckface that exists solely to cause others misery. He somehow gets adopted by millionaires Martin Mull and Karen Black, and he immediately goes on Martin’s computer and empties his bank account. Here is a young child that, circa 1987, devoted a vast amount of time learning to become a computer expert, just so he could destroy people’s lives. He could’ve used this knowledge as a springboard to a productive career, but no. I guess wanton destruction is just too much fun. Hmmm…wantons. I’m getting hungry.

The basic story involves a catholic orphanage of misfits, with a rebel without a reason joining them and causing upheaval within this group dynamic. The “home” is more of a shithole jail, surrounded by an electric fence. The teachers and nuns are the crushing, uncaring authority, attempting and failing to beat these kids into an assembly line of faceless drones. It is not unreasonable to expect kids in this situation to engage in mild destruction and general anti-authority fun. For example, they play indoor hockey, a girl sprays paints a cat green, and the blonde boy catches a glimpse of a nun getting dressed (yes, we get to see some penguin tits).

The blonde kid gets adopted by the Mulls, for some unknown reason. They already have two teenagers, a vapid valley girl type and a son who seems to think he’s a samurai (he watches Shogun Assassin on television as part of his training, I guess). Their new son immediately wreaks havoc, destroying the house on top of draining Martin’s bank account. Meanwhile, the kids all decide that they need to escape the orphanage (good idea), and rescue the blonde kid from a rich loving home (bad idea). I don’t know why they would want to rescue this evil piece of shit. I guess they figure him to be part of their own, that all he needs is love and understanding from his peers to transform from a scumbag pupa into a barely tolerable butterfly. I, on the other hand, think putting him to sleep is probably the way to go. No amount of love from either family is going save this unspeakable brat, so cut your losses I say. There’s plenty more kids where that came from.

Well, the group does in fact escape, and they invade the Mull’s home in order to rescue their comrade. In the process, they further destroy the house, and the family is treated as the enemy for some reason. I don’t understand what makes them so deserving of further hell. Martin does call the black kid a “burrhead” (a racist insult I first remember hearing in the most un-P.C. exploitation masterpiece Fight For Your Life), but he does so in his irresistible Mull-specific charm, and he certainly has a right to be angry, so I’ll let it slide. The finale (along with the opening too) does have a wacky, nearly-out-of-control energy, that manages to distract one from the forced, hamfisted plot.

In the end, the kids ride off into the sunset, which I guess is supposed to be a happy ending of sorts. However, how are these kids going to survive amongst the jungles of modern society? Not one of them is 18 years of age, and they have neither parents nor money nor the ability to find work. I guess whether conformist or non-conformist, they are screwed either way. At least they are finally free to roam without “the man” screaming at them to sit up and be quiet. Their victory is accompanied by a theme song performed by the Sparks, so at least their poorly thought out plan gets off to a rockin’ start.


Above all, this piece is a tribute to one Pamela Segall-Adlon. She plays the tough, spunky tomboy that wears the referee shirt occasionally with the collar up (suck on that, Henry Winkler). I say it takes a special pair of fashion balls to rock a referee outfit. If you try to order her around, or maybe reach for her vadge without permission, she has the authority to administer an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. After two penalties…YOU’RE OUTTA HERE PAL! HIT THE SHOWERS!

Her first role (Grease 2) is probably still her most famous, but she has steadily worked ever since. She starred in several T.V. movies in the eighties, has done a lot of animated voice work, and also managed the mean feat of playing a high school student in both Grease 2 and Gate 2, released 8 years apart. Perhaps her greatest showcase was in the series Lucky Louie, Louie C.K.’s brilliantly funny postmodern take on the traditional family sitcom.

While unheralded, she embodies (for me anyway) the petite tomboy brunette, sporting a sizable set of balls for such a tiny package, while still being sexy as hell (I'm referring to the adult version, for the record). She can also capably keep up with the boys in the ball busting department. Pam is exactly the kind of portrait of womanhood we should celebrate over your typical blonde, plastic, dolled up, spineless waifs. Tough and confident despite her size, she seems truly unconcerned with petty girly stuff, and is not about to take guff from anyone, male or otherwise.


  1. Excellent and hilarious review....
    And I totally agree about Pamela.

    I gotta check this movie out.

  2. @Andrew
    I've been watching Louie (the new Louie CK show), and she pops up a couple of times. She's also a producer on it I think.

    The movie was released on VHS in the US, but it's super rare. I think there was a DVD release in the UK, but it might be under the Growing Pains title.

  3. Its avaible in Australia on DVD for $2 at budget stores. As a 80's child, I loved this. The vag scene was a bit pedo though.