Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Wild Life (1984)

IMDB Link:
The Wild Life

Directed By:
Art Linson

Summing It Up:
A group of teenagers learn about love, loss, independence, and sex as the summer comes to a close in this 80s comedy from the people who brought us Fast Times At Ridgemont High.

Quick Thoughts: 
Many people consider The Wild Life to be the "unofficial sequel" to the awesome flick, Fast Times At Ridgemont High. After all, Cameron Crowe wrote the script, Sean Penn's brother, Chris Penn (looking much different than I'm sure any of us remember him), plays a party happy jock, and the film deals with the crazy antics of a group of teenagers on their way out of High School. However, that is pretty much where the similarities end.

That's not to say that Wild Life isn't a fun movie; because it definitely is. It just isn't as fun, or well done, as Fast Times was. But let's be honest, movies like that are a rarity, so we shouldn't be expecting lightning to strike twice. That may also be a part of why Wild Life has managed to slip into relative obscurity over the years.

After all, the film hasn't had an official home video release since the heydays of VHS and Laserdisc (the copy I watched was sourced from the latter). I guess the reason for this has something to do with rights to some of the film's music, which features songs from a bunch of popular 80s bands and an original score by Eddie Van Halen himself. So, like several other films over the years (Angus, anyone?), this movie has languished in distribution limbo, and many have forgotten that it exists.

With that in mind, if you can find a copy, I really recommend giving it a watch. Crowe's script is funny, touching, nostalgic, and filled with all of the angst that we've come to expect from him, and the cast is wonderful. Along with Penn, we also get turns from Lea Thompson, Eric Stoltz, Rick Moranis, and Randy Quaid (who is amazingly un-humorous here, though it is for good reason). Producer/Director Art Linson does a decent enough job here, but it's clear that producing is where he does his best work (he only took the helm to avoid cancellation, after the film's original director dropped out at the last minute).

All in all, you could do a lot worse with your time, so if you haven't seen Wild Life, and this sounds appealing, I think you should try tracking it down. You may even be surprised by it.


3 1/2 out of 5


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