Friday 29 June 2018

Movie Review: Private School (1983)

A teen sex comedy, Private School adheres closely to the lowbrow formula of mixing predictable hormonal-driven humour with superfluous nudity.

At the private Cherryvale all-girls school, Chris (Phoebe Cates) is plotting to finally have sex with long-time boyfriend Jim (Matthew Modine), a student at the nearby all-boys school. Chris' nemesis Jordan (Betsy Russell) sets out to seduce Jim. Meanwhile, Jim's friend Bubba (Michael Zorek) is obsessed with peeping at girls in various stages of undress, although he does have a steady girlfriend in Betsy (Kathleen Wilhoite), who is Chris' roommate. Headmistress Miss Dutchbok (Fran Ryan) tries to keep a lid on all the raging hormones.

Notable for a cast featuring Phoebe Cates after her breakout success in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, a pre-stardom Matthew Modine and a post-Emmanuelle Sylvia Kristel as the sex education teacher, Private School does not stray far from the lowest possible expectations. Joining the numerous films stampeding into theatres after Porky's crashed open the door to the commercial viability of movies targeting male teens most interested in ogling nude women, Private School is a low-budget, witless, formulaic exercise in imbecility on both sides of the camera.

The humour is rarely funny, the behaviour of the teens is uniformly dumb, and the entirety of what passes as fragments of plot revolves around chasing after sex or voyeurism. Typical for films of the era, this is a primarily male teen fantasy view of the world, and for the most part the girls are subjects to be exploited, both by the filmmakers (Noel Black is the director) and the characters.

If the film has one morsel of redemption, it resides in Jordan displaying sexual fortitude of her own to manipulate the boys (although she is made to suffer for her aggressiveness), and Chris deciding for herself on the right time to have sex with Jim.

To ensure that the film is fully consigned to the scrapheap, Private School plays out to an excruciatingly bad soundtrack of hideous early 1980s by-the-numbers pop, the quality of the music matching the on-screen material, equal opportunity garbage for both the eyes and the ears.

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