I know that there are a few people who do, in fact, read these ramblings every once in a while; on occasion I'll receive a request from one of them to ramble about a particular film. I find this flattering, even though I totally understand that these very nice people probably like my blog for the same reason people like Tommy Wiseau and James Nguyen, or Rebecca Black and William Hung. Anyway, this awesome motherfucker asked me to write about Tuff Turf, which I'd never seen but always intended to because James Spader's sweet, sweet ass starred in it.
Yeah, Spader and his sweet, sweet ass always had it going the fuck on in the 80's; I remember when my mom took me to a double-feature of Mannequin and Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol and it became one of The Greatest Nights Of Cinema Ever -- plus my mind was pretty fuckin' blown because G.W. Bailey was in both of those movies, and then my mind was blown even further about a year later when my sister brought home the VHS of Less Than Zero, which came off like an even darker version of Mannequin because James Spader and Andrew McCarthy were in both films. And to think, I had yet to discover Pretty in Pink.
So, I finally got a hold of the seemingly out-of-print DVD of Tuff Turf and watched it the other night, and I was pleasantly surprised to not only hear a Marianne Faithfull tune at the beginning, but to see that the crisp night photography was done by Willy Kurant; he shot Masculin Féminin for Jean-Luc Godard, but I'm gonna be honest and tell you that I didn't know about him from that flick -- not at the time, anyway -- instead, I first knew of Kurant after watching an early-90's flick called Day of Atonement (a re-edited/retitled cut of some French wannabe Godfather flick that featured Christopher Walken and that fine Jennifer Beals -- it has some hilarious dubbing of the French actors, so they can sound more American). He also shot Pootie Tang, which makes sense because in addition to being one of the funniest motherfuckers around, Louis C.K. is also very much a film snob -- a film snob who made Pootie Tang -- so it's no accident that Kurant was hired by him to lens his first studio film and Gallic up scenes like this one.
Anyway, the film starts off with Kim Richards all slutted up, setting up some poor dude in a gray suit and brown shoes at a bus stop to get jacked by her boyfriend and his fellow hoodlums. You'd think he'd know better in such a dark area, but the man sure makes it easy for these jackers by counting out his money way out in the open -- me, I'm like Bill Murray in Stripes when I pull out the green, turning my shit away so you can't see how I'm rolling -- but whatever, it looks like he's only got a bunch of ones anyway, so he must be one of those fake ballers who places the big bills in front, so no wonder he doesn't put up any struggle when they get up on him and flash the steel.
But let me go back to Kim Richards; she's got this interesting look going for her in that her hair and outfits scream Bad Girl but her face politely insists Good Girl -- she's far more convincing (and prettier) when she un-sluts herself late in the film. All I knew about Ms. Richards was that she was in a Disney flick and a John Carpenter joint in the 70's and that she was related to the chick from Curfew and that useless walking STD, Paris Hilton. So I looked her up on the IMDB and found out she was on that Real Housewives of Beverly Hills show. Fuck, I knew about that show but had no idea she and her sister Kyle were in that shit. On the one hand, it was nice to know that she's most likely doing well financially if she's a RHOBH, but on the other hand, fuck man, she's a goddamn RHOBH? Aren't those ladies supposed to be, like, Real Cunts of Southern California or something?
Then I read the comments on her IMDB page's message board from people who watch her on that program, and apparently she's like the fuckin' Fredo of that show with her weak-willed ass, and that she's possibly a heavy drinker. I don't even know this chick, yet I was saddened to hear about that, but not surprised. I don't know, man, she just looks like the vulnerable type, like too fuckin' vulnerable; she has one of those faces that always seems primed and ready-made for some asshole husband to yell at her about the dinner being cold, right before the inevitable backhand.
Even at 46 years old, Kim Richards looks like she would still make the dumb/fatal mistake of Jan Brady-ing her ass back to the ice cream truck and politely stating that she asked for a Vanilla Twist. If that's the case, and if these IMDB-posting motherfuckers are right about her being a shit-taking pushover, then I hope she one day bounces back and escapes from the Witch Mountain that is her sister and the rest of those Botox'd leatherfaces and comes out of it stronger and healthier. But if she's just as bad as them, then I don't know, live your fuckin' life, lady, I don't give a shit, I got my own problems. Whatever the case, it's some crazy prescient-type shit to see her standing in front of a mirror in this movie and acting out this fantasy of being a high society rich girl, laughing about how she's recently been eating lobster so much -- never knowing that she would actually have those kind of Rich White Girl problems later in real life.
Back to the film; so these guys are about to fuck up the businessman something proper, but here comes James Spader's sweet ass to the rescue, on his fuckin' $500 bike. It's really none of his business, but good for him, spoiling these assholes' mugging attempt by riding in and spraying beer on them and causing one dude to spray paint his bro in the face, all while jamming to that Be-Bop-A-Lula song on his Walkman.
Yeah, this Spader's a real badass teen, man, but because his room is littered with books by guys like John Updike, Frederick Lewis Allen and Richard Bach -- not to mention he's got an Albert Einstein poster up on his wall -- there's more than meets the eye to this guy. By the way -- that Einstein poster? It's got a quote from the man, something about how great spirits always encounter violent opposition from mediocre minds, and I'm like, Of course Spader's character would think this pertains to him. Hell, anyone with that poster thinks that shit is referring to them -- oh, I'm a great spirit that no one understands! -- kinda like how Ayn Rand fans always think that bitch was referring to them when talking her shit, they all think they're Howard Roark up in this motherfucker.
But Spader? He ain't no second-hander, but he does use both hands to double-dart gun the roaches on his wall. He's also new in town, new to the school, trying to stay out of trouble. I know this because Spader's mom did the film a favor by having one of those awesome phone conversations that is really exposition in disguise and then his father continues said awesome exposition by telling Spader some shit he should already know by now -- like his son needs to be reminded on his first day at a new school that it's his first day at a new school.
Maybe I heard this wrong, but during the scene where Spader meets the very fair-and-balanced principal, something about "rooftop rock concerts" is mentioned and I guess that's one of the various hardcore gangsta shenanigans that got homeboy kicked out of the two prep schools he previously attended in the mean state of Connecticut. Sounds like the kind of shit that would get Zack Morris a slap on the wrist and maybe a Hey Hey Hey Hey What Is Going On Here from Principal Belding, but Spader had to move to another fuckin' state as a result of stunts like that, which is way too harsh for my taste, if you ask me, but what can you do? They probably weren't taking that kind of shit back in the 80's, and unfortunately Spader was born too early, homeboy's clearly a man born in the wrong time.
The new school is actually pretty nice and non-threatening, at least to me it was; it didn't appear to be the kind of school that would be in dire need of a Morgan Freeman or John Belushi to clean up and set straight. But there is a Bad Element here, and they happen to be the same Bad Element that Kim Richards was hanging with at the beginning of the movie, led by the slightly David Hess-ian actor Paul Mones, a name that seemed very familiar to me, and it would be familiar to you too if you grew up watching Jean Claude Van Damme fucking people up. You see -- as I found out when I confirmed it on IMDB -- Paul Mones co-wrote the screenplays for Double Team and The Quest, which is amusing to me because in Tuff Turf he looks like the kind of guy that Van Damme would be beating the shit out of in one of his earlier flicks. Anyway, Mones also wrote & directed a movie starring original hipster Jeff Goldblum, but I really don't care about that right now.
What I do care about is finding out that muthafuckin' Robert Downey Jr. is in this movie! Holy shit, I had no idea because he's credited without the Jr. part in his name, so I figured from the credits that it was his father (a prince) who was going to show up somewhere down the line, but no, man, it's Iron Man himself -- not only that, it's yet another Less Than Zero connection. First off, looking at him in this movie, and knowing what I know now -- what all of us know now -- is that it's so fuckin' obvious this was made while he was gettin' up in them drugs something fierce, man. FIERCE. Some scenes, he looks less druggy than others, so maybe he was clean during the movie and got into Party Mode halfway through, I don't know. Maybe he was clean throughout the whole movie and just suffered from Jim Breuer disease, looking fucked-up all the time. Anyway, here he plays a dude who befriends Spader and even gives him a switchblade for protection, now that Mones & company are looking to fuck him up for fucking up their money.
At first, their various fuckeries with The Spades involve The Darker Side of The Karate Kid type of bullying; they spray-paint his face and launch his $500 bike into the air by driving straight into it, which is fuckin' hilarious, watching that bike fly up in slow-motion like it's The Most Tragic Moment Ever -- which it is, if you were a 17-year-old and your bike got straight-up merked like that. Anyway, you see these guys and the school they're terrorizing and realize that it's a clear-case of Big Fish In A Little Pond; I mean, this group of rough ruffians and tough tuffians might be able to scare the shit out of your average straight bleached-blond youngster in way-too-short-shorts, but you put these assholes in any high school located in, uh, I don't know, South Central Los Angeles, perhaps, and they'd get their punk asses handed to them. But they are threatening enough that if you were a character in an 80's teen movie, you'd much rather have to deal with William Zabka and his lunch-table-lifting jackofferies, instead of these guys -- at least until the inevitable Second Plot Point, when these douchebaggas upgrade the kind of steel they like to carry.
It's interesting (and perhaps very telling) that Mones' has this cross pendant dangling very conspicuously from his neck, the better to display his total lack of Getting It because with all the crime and bullying he does, I don't think he understands what that cross symbolizes, let alone what the motherfucker nailed to it was all about. Fuck it, I guess it makes sense and it's believable that his character would be that fuckin' clueless and/or hypocritical because we gots lots of motherfuckers today who are all about The Christ and his message of love, yet these same people would slam a door in their child's face if he or she told him or her that he or she had a preference for chugging his fellow man's cock or chowing her fellow girl's box (or scissoring their fellow girl, if that's what they're more into).
By the way, these hardcore religious types love to quote that Leviticus shit, never thinking that this shit wasn't so much written by The Man Upstairs and his son James Caviezel as it was dictated to human beings, and maybe one of these human beings had a hard-on for the gays (but not in that way) and snuck in one night into the Jesus files and did a little ghost-writing of his own, adding some bullshit about how doing the homo thing is an abomination, knowing that by doing this revision shit, he was fucking future generations of gay people (but not in that way). If that was the case, I bet you this asshole, after he died, he arrived at the pearly gates thinking how awesome he was and then God just gave him this look like "Seriously, dude?" and rather than use His God-powers to fix that shit, He figured it's just one more fucked-up test to give us human beings, to see how many people would believe that shit. As of now, He still can't believe people are following that shit to the letter, and He probably feels about us humans the same way that dude on YouTube felt about his dog shitting on the beach.
While I'm on this Uncomfortably Discussing Homosexuality roll, let me bring up one of Mones' lackies; he's this raza dude and if you didn't know that just by looking at him, you'll know from hearing him because he's always saying the word "maricón" and if you don't know what that word means, then you're probably Tom Cruise and everything's sunshine and denials with you. Everything is "maricón" with this guy, which later makes you wonder -- these guys are fond of wearing belly shirts and thin headbands straight out of Cruising and during one scene, right before Mones (shirtless) and his crew attack Spader's sweet, sweet ass (also shirtless) in the locker room (right next to the showers), Mones gives Spader this Shawshank-style "Hey, anybody come at you yet?" look -- so maybe mi hermano was just calling it like he saw it.
I wasn't of age during the 80's, but all I hear about is how that decade was all about Gettin' Yours and living a life of excess and making as much as you can while telling your fellow man to go fuck himself, and I guess a lot of that shit would reflect in the movies and television shows of the time -- you were supposed to want all that shit, otherwise you can never be happy. So maybe that's why there's a sequence in this flick where Spader takes Iron Man, Vanilla Twist, and this chick who reminded me of my homegirl Kelli Maroney over to crash a country club for a taste of the good life.
It's there that these Tuff Turfians learn that there is more to life than eating delicious burgers and fries, there's also bullshit salads and non-filling hors d'oeuvres too -- all while taking these stuffed shirts down a peg or two and teaching them to Get Down. In other words, thanks to former rich kid Spader, these poor kids ended up getting a real treat by getting to live life like a baller, even if it was just for 20 minutes. But then, if you flash forward about 12 years or so later, you see a movie like Titanic, where poor scrappy DiCaprio takes rich unhappy Winslet down to party with the lower class -- where people REALLY know how to party, and where Winslet learns that these rich motherfuckers, man, they are missing the fuck out of Life. Which I guess tells you the difference between the messages of the movies of the 80's and 90's, even though Titanic took place in the 10's, so I really don't know what my fuckin' point is. I'm an idiot.
The best part of this country club sequence is when Spader goes up on-stage during a break in the house band's set to play a song on the piano and with the magic of lip-syncing, croons to Ms. Richards some bullshit about how he walks the night, and I say it's bullshit because he only walked the night for about 10 seconds in this entire movie -- otherwise he's either riding his $500 bike ($500!) or driving a jacked Porsche that obviously belongs to the Dumbest Motherfucker In The World, on account of him or her leaving the fuckin' keys in the ignition in the middle of what is obviously Tuff Turf. C'mon, people -- you don't leave your fuckin' keys in a car parked in the middle of Tuff Turf! Seriously!
Anyway, Spader is such a boss dude, he manages to woo over Kim Richards over to the non-greasy side with his singing and his various other Spaderies, like playing music and reading outside Ms. Richards' apartment (that's his way of serenading her and displaying his intelligence to her) in his awesome leather jacket, but this doesn't sit well with Mones and his crew of flunkies, so that means even more confrontations and threatening-sounding synthesizer music.
But man, fuck that Paul Mones, man, he's such a fuckin' prick in his stupid vests like he's in The Warriors and then he feels he's the victim of a My Chick robbery when Spader comes along, yet doesn't notice how fuckin' douchey he sounds when he refers to Ms. Richards as "my property". I don't think he even really loves her, despite what that asshole might say or think; she lives in an apartment located above the liquor store her father owns/works for and I bet you all he sees in her is his cock and some free booze. Man, fuck you, Mones -- I didn't even think Double Team was all that, anyway. KNOCK OFF FOR LIFE, BITCH.
But it's not just future screenwriters The Spade's got to deal with; his mother is simply not Getting It and giving him shit (he has a cool father, though), and she's holding him up to the gold standard that is his super-preppy brother who's got good things going in his collegiate life, this guy who probably has a girlfriend named Buffy. By the way, Spader's not a total opposite from his bro; while his sibling is dressed in a shirt & tie (rolled-up sleeves, natch) with one of those lightly knotted sweaters worn off the shoulders like he's fuckin' Bronson Pinchot about to ride the Viper, Spader's also got some pretty privileged duds he parades around in periodically (whenever he's not Walking The Night in his badass leather jacket); we're talking a light pink dress shirt under the kind of sweater that looks like something Paul Reiser would have on during any given episode of My Two Dads, whenever he was feeling particularly father-ish. But I can dig it, that's how dudes dressed back then, I guess.
The music seems like the kind of stuff they listened to back then; the soundtrack is pretty sweet, even though I don't recognize much of it (I reckon it's original stuff made for the movie) but it's definitely got that unmistakably 80's vibe to it. They also mix it up with some of that White Boy Goes Black Man music, courtesy of a band called Jack Mack and the Heart Attack, and these guys, man, I already knew about from the movie that hacks like Kubrick and Coppola and Malick only wished in their wildest dreams they could have made -- Police Academy.
But now, thanks to Tuff Turf, I know how these guys look; the trombone player/hypeman looks like a thinner Paul F. Tompkins wearing Powers Boothe's disguise from the climax of Sudden Death, and the lead singer looks like Bonecrusher from Deadbeat at Dawn. But Kim Richards, she hears this Jack Mack and she's like Step Back, because this fragile-looking thin girl with very long hair suddenly turns into a shorter thicker woman with fake-ass hair extensions when she's dancing. It's the power of music, ya'll!
Anyway, this is a cool 80's joint and I was surprised to find out afterwards that the shit was almost 2 hours long, because it never felt lagging or slow. Sure, it's funny to see the styles & clothes of the time, and watching Spader's sweet, sweet ass with his making-the-ladies-wet-with-his-singing routine is Good Times too, but overall I thought this was pretty legit; the villain's an asshole, the lead is relatively root-worthy (I mean that in both the American and Australian definition) and the climax involves dart guns and Tenebrae dobermans. I dug it -- and if you like watching emotional scenes get sabotaged by hilariously distracting posters of Johnny Rotten, then by all means, Tuff Turf this shit.
In conclusion, Jim Carroll is also in this flick and so is Cat Sassoon -- two more friends that DIED.
2 weeks ago