Teen Wolf (1985)

8 Apr


Smith’s Verdict: **

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Teen Wolf” has a couple of good ideas and a likable leading actor, but it’s too busy trying to rebuke on old ideas from better high school movies. It’s about a high school teenager who discovers that when he gets excited or nervous, he gains wolf-like abilities, as well as full-body fur, fangs, and claws. But unlike most werewolves, his personality remains the same. It’s only his appearance and abilities that have changed.

Michael J. Fox plays the teen wolf. In the beginning of the movie, he, as teenager Scott Howard, is shown as a high school basketball player whose team is last place in the state. Gee, haven’t we seen this before? If only there was some way the team could redeem themselves in a climactic “big game”…

Yes, I was being sarcastic. “Teen Wolf” does end with a big game and it’s obvious which team is going to win.

But I digress. Scott is also insecure about himself. He’s not like his best friend Stiles (played almost over the top with slyness and can-do attitude by Jerry Levine), who is so wild and cool that he’ll pretend to surf on top of a moving van to the tune of “Surfin USA” by the Beach Boys.

Another cliché—Scott has a crush on the busty blonde girl in school and doesn’t even realize that the nice brunette girl (named Boof, whatever kind of name that is) has liked him for a long time. Don’t teenagers in movies notice anything anymore? They’re not in junior high anymore—it’s time for them to open their eyes.

Scott begins to turn into a wolf when excited and nervous while spending “seven minutes in heaven.” It turns out his dad has the same curse (actually, according to him, it’s a gift) and it runs in the family. Scott can turn into a wolf and back into a kid whenever he wants to. This brings many advantages to his high school life as he becomes popular with the nickname “Teen Wolf” and the captain of the basketball team, which suddenly has a winning streak, now that Scott’s powers make him the star player.

“Teen Wolf” has gained a cult status. I’m not (nor am I going to be) a part of that cult because this, to me, is feeble, innocuous, and doesn’t take many chances with Scott’s newly discovered wolf. And it laboriously gives us the moral of being yourself. I could have told you that. Michael J. Fox is likable in the lead role, but compare this to “Back to the Future” and he plays the same character, only this time with fangs, pointy ears, and fur. “Back to the Future” was a great movie with a tricky premise and complicated yet fun storyline. “Teen Wolf” is not a good movie because it doesn’t take as many chances as “Back to the Future.” I wish the director and writers had better story material go on for this premise.

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