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Mischief

Year: 1985
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Mel Damski
Writer: Noel Black
Cast: Doug McKeon, Kelly Preston, Catherine Mary Stewart, Chris Nash

I remember this VHS video cover from my teenage years and thought more recently that – with the picture of the shocked, half-dressed teenagers falling out of the open car door – it might be a classic 80s sex comedy like Hardbodies, Hot Dog: The Movie or Hollywood Hot Tubs.

It does have shades of that (including a sex scene that would have been plenty to give it an R rating in the 80s with its full frontal nudity), but it's set in the 1950s so doesn't have the iconic 80s trappings I was expecting.

Instead of just horny teens trying to get laid it's more of a soap opera. Nerdy Jonathan has no luck with girls and pines after the pretty, preppy Marilyn (future Mrs John Travolta Kelly Preston). He also befriends the good-looking rebel who moves into his street, Gene.

Gene considers Jonathan a kind of plaything, telling him he'll make Jonathan irresistible to girls while too cool to admit he's enjoying his new friendship with him, Jonathan following him around in awe like a devoted puppy.

But while Gene has a way with women, he only wants Bunny (Catherine Mary Stewart), and along with his fathers' standoffishness and refusal to acknowledge or love him, Gene's life isn't as cool or effortless as it looks.

Instead of a shlocky sex romp set on the beaches of LA with crimped hair, synth rock music and high cut bikinis as far as the eye can see, it looks more like a lower-rent Back to the Future. The acting and the story were as humdrum as I expected them to be, and without the neon-tinged, straight-to-video aesthetic I was looking forward to there's not much to enjoy.

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