It seemed like a good idea. Take one of the seminal films of the 1960s, complete with a catchy title song, and remake it.
Too bad it didn’t really translate as well as it could have. One of the best elements of the original version was deliberately left out, namely the whole ‘watch yourself or else this could happen to you’ thing. The cautionary tale in 1960 became a trite shadow in 1984.
I confess, when this movie is on, I will stop and watch it. This was supposed to be a classic spring break road trip movie. And like all movies of the genre there’s booze, boobs, and sex. There’re also star-crossed (or at least cross-country) lovers who meet and share a mad passionate relationship over the course of the vacation.
But the key difference with Where the Boys Are ’84 is it focuses on four women who are looking for fun and sun, as opposed to four guys. Thus there’s less T&A than you’d usually get, or even want.
Our lovely group of co-eds is led by Jennie (Lisa Hartman Black, Knots Landing) who would rather stay and study over break until the promise of meeting her musical idol, a classical pianist, lures her into going. Once in Lauderdale she meets him, but also has caught the eye of the hitchhiker the girls picked up on the way to Florida. What’s a girl to do?
Her roommate Carole (Lorna Luft, Grease 2) is anxious to get away from boyfriend Chip believing they’ve fallen into a rut. But she’s forced to face her woes when he follows her. Meanwhile uppity Sandra (Wendy Schaal, American Dad!) promises to stay for the weekend before going on a separate vacation, but her plans are waylaid when she lands in jail and falls for the arresting officer. Rounding out the group is Laurie (Lynn-Holly Johnson, For Your Eyes Only) who also has definite plans for the break…find a Conan the Barbarian type of stud and engage in one wild night. She ends up finding the perfect guy but things take an unbelievable turn.
Within our buxom quartet of leading ladies you have one who’s married to a country superstar, one who’s the daughter of Judy frickin’ Garland, one who works with Seth MacFarlane, and one who’s a Bond girl; so Where the Boys Are ’84 can’t be all bad, right?
And it’s not. The actresses all display a genuine chemistry with one another, although with no one else at times. They’re simply a victim of the genre. There isn’t a successful spring break road trip movie featuring female stars that I can think of. Honestly Where the Boys Are ’84 is no worse than Crossroads and it’s better than From Justin to Kelly.
If you’re looking for a good spring break road trip movie look elsewhere. Chances are you’re looking for raunchy bits and nudity and you’ll find none of the first and barely any of the second. While it made back its budget and then some when it came out, it doesn’t hold up over the long haul unless it’s as a guilty pleasure.
This is not a crystal clear transfer and while the grain and uneven levels would normally give it a definitive ’80s low budget film feel, in this case it’s like watching a bootlegged VHS copy. The audio falls flat, too, but again I didn’t expect perfection here and neither should you. The special features are a couple of interviews with stars Wendy Schaal and Russell Todd, plus a couple of trailers.