With October filled with scare cinema and December an awards heavy film time, November is a fine time shed some good old-fashioned movie guilt – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick! Are there films you love that you tell no one about? Movies with cheesy acting, deplorable dialogue and plot twists you can drive a Mack truck through, but that you secretly adore anyway? That’s the genre film focus for this month – guilt pleasures. Up first is a film so gamey that it received no less than five top Razzie nominations. A youth revenge fantasy that shamelessly cashes in on a previous picture coupling and has some of the worst lines ever uttered on screen. Some call it s@it – I lovingly call it…Blue City.
Billy Turner is a guy with a chip on his shoulder. The son of a small town Florida Mayor, Billy caused a lot of trouble as a kid and eventually decided to leave his hometown of Blue City to explore the outside world. But now older Billy has made his way back home and the news is far from good. Seems while he was gone someone has shot his poor pop dead and the case is cold. Not having done a selfless thing in his entire life, Billy decides to avenge his fathers death and make whomever did the dirty deed pay dearly.
There’s not much in the arena of powerful story prose (even though it’s adapted from a great 1947 Ross McDonald novel), or decent dialogue (“I’m a trainee back robber that’s who the f@ck I am and you’re jack s@it, so just shut up!”) and it’s certainly a surprise given that one of the writers is prolific Hollywood helmer Walter “48 HRS.” Hill. Abandoning all wit for sheer teen grit, Hill and co-writer Lukas Heller take a done-to-death premise of revenge and redemption and mire it in an almost disgraceful ‘disenchanted young adult’ model that provides unhealthy yet fulfilling instant gratification – like cinematic fast food. And who better than the bad boy of The Breakfast Club to play their spoiled rich kid Billy with wild abandon. As the uncouth youth who’s like a dog with a meatless bone, Judd Nelson’s Billy (pre-From The Hip!) is the epitome of the against the grain leading man looking for justice. (His first scene sees him punching out bartender who used to beat the crap out of him in high school!) Going after Scott Wilson’s local town hood (he of Johnny Handsome and The Walking Dead fame!) with the subtlety of a turd in a swimming pool, Nelson and his antics are a huge part of the visceral fun of Blue City. Proclaiming loud and proud Wilson’s guilt inside one of his liquor establishments, blowing up his car with a carefully placed Molotov cocktail and even robbing his race track are just a few of the arousing attention getting devices enlisted by Nelson’s man child that call out his kin’s killer and it’s like watching a satisfying adult temper tantrum come to life.
There are of course a gaggle of other cool elements at play worth noting. It’s no accident that Nelson’s on screen gal pal is former movie cohort Ally Sheedy (it’s a Breakfast Club reunion film fans!) and the film doesn’t shy away from their chemistry heavy pairing. Plus there’s some tasty early David Caruso pre-NYPD Blue playing a small town lowlife friend of Billy’s (and yes, he awesome here!), a fine turn by The Terminator alum Paul Winfield as a smarmy chief of police and even the ham fisted direction by newbie director Michelle Manning – her only feature to date – has some notable visual moments within the lush Florida setting. But the thing that ultimately seals the deal for Blue City is the way-better-than-it deserves score by slide guitar sensation Ry Cooder. Borrowing the musician from frequent collaborator Hill, Manning enlists Cooder to enhance the southern setting and he delivers handsomely with a score that eclipses the flick itself.
Blue City is not going to be for everyone – hell, it may not be for anyone. But nevertheless I find myself watching it again and again and captivated by its pros and more especially its cons. For a film critic with a discerning eye it’s certainly a damning contradiction in terms, but for a movie geek giddy for a braty Judd Nelson, its cool closeted (well, not any more!) cinematic comfort that gratifies all guilt. I love Blue City – Razzies and Rotten Tomatoes be damned.