Inspired by the 1960 film Where The Boys Are, Hy Averback's Where The Boys Are '84 (which was originally meant to be titled Where The Boys Are Now) was produced by Allan Carr, an openly gay man who, according to the liner notes, personally picked the male cast members for this film - that might explain why they're frequently running around in Speedos. Regardless, Carr hit the jackpot when he bankrolled the film adaptation of the hit play Grease, but later proved lightning doesn't strike twice when he produced a string of stinkers including Grease 2, Can't Stop The Music and this film.
The movie follows four coeds - Jennie (Lisa Hartman), Carole (Lorna Luft), Sandra (Wendy Schaal), and Laurie (Lynn-Holly Johnson) - who pile into a Cadillac and head to Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break. Each of these girls has their own reasons for the trip: Jennie needs to finish her paper for her music class but is pressured to go by her friends; Carole is having trouble with her man and needs a break; Sandra was planning on going to Bermuda but gets talked into Florida instead; Laurie is just looking to smoke some weed, get drunk and have 'animal sex' with a hunk. As they set out on their road trip, they pick up a hitchhiker named Scott (Russell Todd) on his way to the beach to meet up with the other four dudes in his band.
Once everyone arrives, Scott heads off to meet his pals but forgets his bag, which means before you know it, he's knocking on the door of the girls' crummy hotel room looking to pick up his stuff, band mates in tow. Everyone hits it off and later that night the girls head to a bar to see him play (80s rockbilly revivalists The Rockats play here too - that's a young Danny B. Harvey, currently playing with Lemmy and Slim Jim Phantom in The Head Cat, noodling away on guitar) and a few of the girls get a little loaded. The ensuing drive home results in an arrest and so they decide that in order to get the bail money they need they should enter a hot body contest. High jinks lead to more high jinks and eventually each of the four leading ladies finds romance, be it with a fledgling rocker, a piano player, a hunky 'Conan' guy or a local cop - though jealous boyfriends and snooty family members will cause their share of problems.
Though the film was slapped with an R-rating by the MPAA for some topless nudity and a few F-bombs, Where The Boys Are '84 plays it pretty safe when compared to more infamous teen sex comedies of the decade like Revenge Of The Nerds or Porky's. While sex is obviously a prominent theme throughout the movie, there's a fairly sweet romantic angle to certain segments of the film. These aren't always successful, mind you, but the film tries to have a bit of heart but these bits just conflict with the racier moments in the movie. That's not to say that the movie isn't entertaining, because it is, but it doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be a romance, a sex comedy or a beach movie like the sixties opus that inspired it.
There are definitely some fun moments here though. Sandra's drunken strip show which she performs during The Rockats' set is amusing in its weirdness (at one point she drunkenly flips off a table into the audience only to be flipped back onto another table - sadly, her friends grab her before she can take her top off!) and the score and fashions will no doubt provide a huge nostalgia rush for those of us who were old enough to remember just how horrible things looked in the mid-eighties. Glenn Super plays Mr. Bullhorn, a guy who runs around the beach and alerts sunbathing beauties to the presence of Paul Newman in order to get them to pop up and bare their breasts - his presence is always amusing just for the sheer (though noble) stupidity of it all. There are moments here that are pretty funny but overall this is an enjoyably campy, dopey film more likely to appeal to eighties nostalgia buffs than anyone else.
Where The Boys Are '84 looks pretty okay in this 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. Those with an aversion to grain might not be too happy but as far as actual print damage goes there's not much to complain about here and the garish eighties colors that are prominent throughout the movie are reproduced very nicely. Skin tones look fine, detail isn't bad for a movie of this age, and if this isn't quite eye popping, it's pretty solid none the less.
The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix that's on this disc is also fine, delivering the movie with clear dialogue and properly balanced levels and devoid of any hiss or distortion though there are a few spots that you might notice where the soundtrack seems a bit high in the mix - it's infrequent, but it might be a bit distracting. Generally though, things sound very good here. There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided.
Aside from a trailer for the feature and trailers for a few other Scorpion Releasing properties, there are two interviews here. The first is a thirty-three minute talk with actress Wendy Schaal who played Sandra in the movie and who has since gone on to star in Six Feet Under and provide the voice of Francine Smith in American Dad. She talks about her work on this film in particular but also covers some other career highlights. The second interview puts actor Russell Todd, who played Scott, in front of the camera for twenty-two minutes to talk about his work on this film, his co-stars, the director and what's been up to since appearing in this movie and other cult titles like Chopping Mall and Friday The 13th Part 2. Menus and chapter stops are provided and the flipside of the cover art contains some interesting liner notes on the history of the film from writer Paul Talbot.
Where The Boys Are '84 is a goofy slice of eighties pop culture goodness that remains an entertaining watch thanks in no small part to its date styles, score and story. A bizarre mix of sixties beach movies and eighties sex comedies, it's not necessarily going to go on anyone's list as an unsung classic of the decade but it'll definitely appeal to those who dig the genres it's pulling from and Scorpion's DVD is a good one. Recommended for fans of these types of a film, a fun rental for the curious masses.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.