Class (1983)

4 Apr

class 1

Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

I don’t understand why most critics seem to have a grudge against the adult drama and the teenage comedy in the film, “Class,” which seems to have both. I think, with this storyline, they needed both. I didn’t have much of a problem with the dramatic parts like those who didn’t like “Class” did. I thought they sort of fit.

The storyline is this—a shy 17-year-old virgin named Jonathan (Andrew McCarthy) moves into a boarding school. His roommate and best friend Skip (Rob Lowe) gives him some money to go into the city to find some excitement. Jonathan goes to the city and finds excitement, alright…in the form of an attractive (and much older) woman, played by Jacqueline Bisset. As the days go by, he and the woman have an affair together. Jonathan is suddenly the stud at school now (word gets around), but there’s a problem. A huge problem…

And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Even though the advertisers went out of their way to make sure everyone who saw this film in cinemas knew the secret that comes midway through the film, I won’t give it away here. I myself knew what the secret was, but that was on the fault of the advertising, not the movie itself. It’s very discreet in setting up the twist.

“Class” is like a prep-school retread of “The Graduate,” but it has more comedy in the scenes involving Skip, Jonathan, and their friends as they pull practical jokes on each other. Those scenes are pretty funny. Also, the film has a solid characterization of students and teachers. Then we have the more dangerous stuff. The scenes involving Jonathan and the Bisset character are handled delicately, after a gratuitous sex scene that shows up in almost every teen movie in the 80s. Jonathan is proud of his popularly at the prep school (while the woman thinks he’s attending college) and likes being around this gorgeous, nice woman, so it’s not just about losing his virginity. But then when she founds about who he is (and how young he is), he really misses her. Then when the secret is revealed, Jonathan is caught up in complications that he can’t seem to handle.

To be sure, this isn’t a great movie. Sometimes, it seems like the Jacqueline Bisset character is a bit confused. Also, the film is somewhat inconsistent with some of the comedy and drama, and the ending comes off as flat—this film doesn’t have a real payoff. But most of “Class” did work for me. Rob Lowe and Andrew McCarthy are both good, appealing young actors and most of the scenes involving them and their friends are funny (they’re more appealing than the teenagers in “Porky’s”). The drama works nice, save for the moments I criticized above. So I recommend “Class” with three stars out of four.

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