Sunday 19 July 2020

Movie Review: Oxford Blues (1984)

A romantic sports drama and comedy, Oxford Blues showcases Rob Lowe's burgeoning charisma but stumbles into stuffy rooms full of cliches.

In Las Vegas, Nick Di Angelo (Lowe) is a brash high school graduate and aspiring rower. He is working as a valet while scamming his way up the waiting list towards admission at Oxford University, where he intends to win the heart of Lady Victoria (Vicky) Wingate (Amanda Pays). After a big night with a generous cougar (Gail Strickland), Nick heads to England.

At Oxford he bumps into fellow American Rona (Ally Sheedy), and finds Vicky engaged to the aristocratic Colin Fisher (Julian Sands). Rowing coach Simon Rutledge (Alan Howard) introduces Nick to the rowing team coxed by Rona, but Nick is a loner and resists the concept of teamwork. He makes progress romancing Vicky and ignores Rona's interest, but his short-tempered me-first attitude antagonises his classmates and the university administration.

Applying healthy doses of the ugly American abroad, old fashioned rebellion exemplified by a leather jacket, and stereotypical British classist stuffiness luxuriating within the walls of a venerable institution, Oxford Blues appears to seek out every overly-familiar chestnut. The story of an outsider disrupting traditions to grab what he wants and in the process learning what it takes to succeed in life is as quaint as they come, and writer/director Robert Boris adds little in the way of zest.

But to his credit Boris does navigate a scenic path around teen-oriented college comedies, sports dramas, a romantic triangle with touches of humour, and coming-of-age lessons in life. The on-location filming conveys a sense of place, while the de rigueur 1980s musical montage features Nick getting to grips with being part of a rowing team, and is the film's best moment. Unfortunately the opportunity to delve just a bit deeper into some of rowing's traditions and mechanics is missed.

The plot logic is flighty at best, this Oxford a place where hardly anyone appears to attend classes or stress about academic performance, while the blue-blooded Lady Victoria is quick to invite Nick's pawing.

However, Rob Lowe at 20 years old does not care much for rationality, as he radiates star potential and glides through campus fueled by searing eyes and that hair. He owns the self deprecating opportunities and convinces as a single-minded young man bulldozing his way towards what he wants until force meets wall. And at Oxford, the walls are built to last longer than the stamina of a young American.

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1 comment:

  1. Very enjoyable movie with lots of old European back drops


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