What a difference Blu-Ray makes- I'd first watched this movie on VHS (on a nice industrial-model VCR and upscaled to 4K, but VHS nonetheless) and found it quite disappointing based on all the time I'd waited since its release to see it. However I usually believe in giving movies a second chance, and getting to see it on Blu-Ray left me much more satisfied. No question that it's a silly movie, but it fits right in the so-bad-it's-good pile.
Showing what a huge difference 24 years was back then (it certainly doesn't seem so now), this sort-of remake of the 1960 movie Where the Boys Are which was so prim and proper updates it to the 80s where girls are much freer to declare that they're seeking "animal sex" with guys with "gorgeous bods" and even get naked on camera. The basic story is the same- a group of college girls drives down to Fort Lauderdale for spring break, and just as in the original they pick up a hitchhiking guy who happens to be headed to the same place. This time it's Scott Nash (Russell Todd) who's in a rock band. He's quickly attracted to Jennie (Lisa Hartman), but she already has her sights on her friend's cousin- Camden Roxbury (Daniel McDonald), a somewhat famous classical pianist, which gives this movie a bit more class than you'd expect (though there is no dialectic jazz to be found in this outing, the kids here go for that rock n' roll and there's plenty on hand here as well.) Carole (Lorna Luft, daughter of Judy Garland) has a boyfriend back home but thinks their relationship needs a bit of a break- but he eventually heads down separately with his buddies to stalk her. 70s ice skating star turned actress Lynn-Holly Johnson is Laurie, the aforementioned girl who unashamedly just wants wild animal sex, and almost gets taken advantage of the same way we've seen many desperate guys do so in other movies.
I guess I've just never gone on the right vacations in my life, because this movie like the original and many others puts a lot of weight on relationships formed between people meeting miles away from home and knowing each other for about a week. That's part of what I didn't like about this the first time around, but I was just a bit more willing to accept it on re-viewing. First Jennie's just riding in the car that picks up Scott, then just a few reels later he's absolutely in love with her. Not to spoil the ending but this culminates in a big musical finale, which had me laughing for all the wrong reasons. It doesn't seem like the world has changed too much since 1984 and now compared to 1960 and 1984, but the best reason to watch this movie now (which pretty much bombed on its initial release) is the 80s styles and music. The budget didn't allow for any real top songs of the day to be included, but what they were able to include helps the movie along plus there's some performances by the Rockats in a few scenes. There were of course a lot of "sex comedies" released during this time with lots of gratuitous nudity; there's some here but not a whole lot which will disappoint those looking just for that, and the humor isn't too vulgar either but would still likely shock the characters of the original movie.
Allan Carr produced this, who struck gold with Grease but then struck out with the legendary Village People movie Can't Stop the Music, one of my favorite bad movies- and if you look real closely at one scene you can see a gold record for that movie's soundtrack album in the background, from Australia where it was actually a hit! While it resembles a bad prime-time soap more than a teen sex comedy of the era, this is still a definite guilty pleasure. Scorpion had previously given this a limited issue on Blu-Ray but has now put it out again giving you a second chance to pick this up in hi-def, where it shines far brighter than it ever could on VHS (it was never put out on laserdisc back then.)
The transfer is gorgeous, showing off everything this movie's got. It's not a masterpiece but it's reasonably well-photographed, and the transfer allows you not only to focus on every 80s detail out there (such as the era's soda cans and T-shirts) but also see the camera crew reflected in a few shots- I can't help but always look out for that. Film elements are very clean (save for a couple minor scratches that were on the original negative) and there are no digital compression issues.
Released in Dolby Stereo, which few theaters that played this were likely equipped with, that track is reproduced also very cleanly in 2-channel DTS Master Audio. The music is spread across the front and rear channels most of the time, with dialogue mostly in the center. Kept my feet tapping throughout!
Carried over from the previous release are video interviews with Wendy Schaal and Russell Todd, each getting over 20 minutes to reminisce about shooting the movie and also talk a bit about their other films. The theatrical trailer is also included in 4x3 standard-def.
This retread can't hold a candle to the original Where the Boys Are, but if you love the 80s it's worth a look on Blu-Ray even if you hated it back then. Movies like this only improve with age, and this release proves that a good presentation can save almost any bad film. Get yours before it's gone again.