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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » My Bodyguard (Blu-ray)
My Bodyguard (Blu-ray)
Kino // PG // September 6, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted October 24, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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My Bodyguard:
I saw My Bodyguard when it hit the theaters in 1980, and as a ten-year-old, it had a profound effect on me. The simple story of a geeky, skinny kid looking for creative ways to avoid bullying really struck a chord. Will a viewing 36 years later generate the same resonance, or will My Bodyguard reveal itself to be trite, facile, and wholly of its time?

Clifford (Chris Makepeace) is the new kid in school. He's thin, thoughtful, and lives in a fancy hotel owned by his grandmother. It's a bad combination for a newcomer in a rough city school, made more dangerously potent by the fact that Clifford owns enough self-confidence to openly mock school bully Moody (a dangerously sleek Matt Dillon) in front of his classmates. Luckily, there's an even more feared bully who appears at just the right moment, in the form of Linderman (Adam Baldwin in his screen debut, looking about 25) who by his mere presence saves Clifford's skin.

Clifford's genius scheme to somehow employ Linderman as his personal bodyguard forms the backbone of the movie, which, while rousing in the day, feels contrived and too easy by today's standards. Written by Alan (Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things) Ormsby, My Bodyguard hits all the right notes in a Syd Field sort of way. Ormsby's script has a satisfying, intimate arc that might still rile up today's bullied pre-teens, but lacks real depth and weight. Linderman's mysterious past hides a secret that gets only the After-School Special treatment. "Poor little guy ... poor little guy," opines Baldwin with very little emotion, in reference to a lost loved one. Meanwhile, Clifford's home life is treated as a joke. His mom is MIA, Martin Mull plays his dad, (which speaks for itself) while his grandmother's raging alcoholism is played for laughs by Ruth Gordon, doing her mystic boozehound best. None of this is examined very closely, lest we waste time getting to the big Linderman/Moody showdown.

Meanwhile, women are curiously absent from the movie. Gordon and Joan Cusack (as one of Clifford's classmates) clock about 6 lines combined, while most of the rest of the movie is given over to various teen boys playing grab-ass and sharing motorcycle rides. Both Dillon's and Baldwin's smooth skin and pouting good looks are the real stars of the film, while Makepeace's wounded eyes get second billing. Ormsby and director Tony Bill capture the feel of high school surprisingly well, but the inner lives of their characters remain mostly in the dark.

My Bodyguard may have seemed slightly gritty to the quiche and fern crowd, but its safe-haven look at school bullying now reads like a dollop of Soft-Scrub, severely hampered by Dave Grusin's flowery score, and a final message that the only real solution to bullying is to be bigger, stronger and meaner. Or to find someone who is. Rent It.

The DVD

Video:
My Bodyguard comes in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio AVC encoded image that looks its age, but is still fairly solid. There is plenty of film grain to be had, but details, especially in the foreground, are sharp and robust. The image in general isn't overly crisp, but has a nice, lived-in film look. Colors, especially skin tones, are naturalistic. The movie is fairly light in tone, with nice autumnal colors in force. No real film damage or compression artifacts are to be found.

Sound:
Your audio presentation comes in the form of a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mix, which presents dialog in clean fashion, and Grusin's grating score upfront and clear. I noted several instances of weird phase-shifting sounds coming through from ambient background noise, creating momentary echoing, and spacy atmospheres. It doesn't conflict with dialog, but it is noticeable.

Extras:
Several TV Spots and a Theatrical Trailer are on offer, as well as a Director's Commentary Track with Tony Bill, moderated by Jim Healy. It's a pleasant and informative listen that covers scene specifics, background, and more.

Final Thoughts:
My Bodyguard may have seemed slightly gritty to the quiche and fern crowd in 1980, but its safe-haven look at school bullying now reads like a dollop of Soft-Scrub, severely hampered by Dave Grusin's flowery score, and a final message that the only real solution to bullying is to be bigger, stronger and meaner. Or to find someone who is. Generally strong and realistic performances tread the line between breezy and serious, lending the film a light feel for nostalgic viewing on a Friday night. Rent It.

- Kurt Dahlke

~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com

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