If you’re a high school student struggling to fit in, catch the eye of the hot blonde or make jump shots, there’s a solution. All that’s required to rocket up the social ladder is to reveal that you’re actually a werewolf. Bam! Problem solved. Because everyone loves the kid who is wont to turn into a hairy, mythical savage beast if he gets pissed off.
That’s what I learned from Teen Wolf, the quintessentially 1985 film that also taught me about underage drinking, the excitement of “surfing” atop a van as it roars through a downtown street, and that spontaneous yet choreographed large-scale dances are the hallmark of any high school prom worth attending.
We at The Inlander are showing you this film next Wednesday as the first installment of our Suds and Cinema series, an ongoing pairing of ridiculous movies and great local beer. We want you to come and enjoy it. Or make fun of it. Or perhaps just drink a couple beers and marvel that there was once a time when movies like this were commonplace.
Never heard of Teen Wolf? We’ll get you caught up: Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox in his prime) is that aforementioned struggling student; he’s on an impossibly bad basketball team that we see getting demolished in the film’s first few minutes. Then he discovers he’s a werewolf, just like his dad, and that side comes out in a basketball game. Immediately everything becomes a lot more awesome. Instead of playing like a drunk fifth-grader, he can dunk and dribble the ball without looking. He can get chicks, even the super-hot Pam, the girlfriend of his rival Mick — a beefy dude who for some reason goes to his high school but plays for a different school’s basketball team. And as if that wasn’t enough, now he can freakin’ break-dance like a sonofabitch.
Teen Wolf was never supposed to be a great movie and never pretended to take itself seriously. When it was released, just months after the Fox vehicle Back to the Future, it was billed as a comedy. A lot of this — the van surfing, the clichéd fat guy on the basketball team, the fact that Scott’s best friend, Stiles, wears T-shirts silk-screened with phrases like “What Are You Looking At Dicknose” — is intentionally goofy. Other aspects — the obnoxious basketball montages, Scott’s pseudo-girlfriend being named “Boof” and the poetic fatherly advice of Scott’s dad — well, that’s just shitty filmmaking.
Here’s what The New York Times said about Teen Wolf in its Aug. 23, 1985 issue: “The special effects aren’t super, but the movie isn’t important enough to damage the classic werewolf myth. No silver bullet is needed to dispatch this movie. It dies a natural death as one looks on.”
OK, I’ve knocked this flick around — but come on you ’80s NYT asshat. That’s a low blow. This film is totally important enough to damage the classic werewolf myth. In fact, it set werewolves back three decades. No one gave a damn about them until that sexy shirtless guy sexily brought them back to sex up Twilight. This is the film that taught an entire generation not to be afraid of werewolves because they come in mighty handy when you need to break a 2-3 zone or illegally buy a keg of beer.
Have a little respect.
Suds and Cinema: Teen Wolf • Wed, April 24 • Beer flows at 6 pm, movie begins at 8 pm with a presentation by The Inlander Film History Department • Bing Crosby Theater • $4 entry, $3 River City beers • 901 W. Sprague Ave.