PLOT - Life in the small town of Grandview, Illinois is one that is just like any other city or town. Tim Pearson, soon to be graduating high school wants to go to Florida to study oceanography. He meets Michelle "Mike" Cody and is attracted to her. She runs the local Demolition Derby place. Ernie "Slam" Webster is on of the drivers in the derby who's wife is cheating on him and wants to later on be with Mike. Tim falls for Mike and a big love triangle is about to happen.
LOWDOWN - There are certain movies that sadly due to either the time they were released, or a weak script makes them one of the many underrated fun little movies that get swept under the rug. Grandview U.S.A is one of them. Made when actors C. Thomas Howell, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Patrick Swayze were at their most popular, this movie was directed by Randal Kiesiser who at the time have developed several popular cult classics. Taking the idea of a small town boy, wanting badly to live his own life, and break away from his boring every day rules and future everyone expects of him, he rebels at one of the most important times in his life. At a crossroads, along with two other people from this small town, Tim begins to make choices that will affect not only his life, but the people around him.
Sounds pretty serious huh?
Well, it really isn't. In fact Grandview U.S.A by any length isn't a good movie at all. In fact it's just a fun dumb little 80's movie that help promise with such a story, but instead relied on the popular cast, some very cheesy and cringe worthy dream/MTV music video scenes, and cheesy lines. This is a lost little 80's gem that captures mid-Western small town life, and a young man hungry for more. I still remember taping this movie on TV years ago when I like pretty much any female out there was in love with C. Thomas Howell aka Ponyboy. I always liked the side story of "Mike" played by Jamie Lee Curtis who is the slightly older tomboy who has followed in her father's footsteps and has taken over the car derby which is slowly failing and losing money and being pressured by the bank and town to sell. I always felt this was a pretty powerful storyline for a female character in this era, and I loved her relationship with "Cowboy" her slow brother, and how hard she fights to hold onto the only place she ever knew. The town meeting scene is always a highlight in an otherwise silly movie. It's a small town girl fighting against all the hotshots with only a few people standing behind her.
I think that's why I always loved her little love affair with high school graduate Tim who is sorta the golden boy from his area. In fact I really felt Howell and Curtis played a pretty great on screen couple, and really didn't like how quickly they switched things at the end to wrap it up neatly with her and Swayze. Sure I liked his side story about him and his younger wife (played by Ms. Jennifer Jason Leigh) and I always get a huge kick out of the bulldozer scene. One of the best scenes of couple revenge ever. Still, him and Curtis just didn't seem to fit together and the fact she lands up with him always sorta busts my chops. Besides that, if you don't take this movie too serious and just view it as a silly 80's movie with a good soundtrack (love the catchy Air Supply song Grandview U.S.A) with some funny moments and somewhat cute love story, this is the movie for you.
I've always liked it since it takes place during the summer around graduation time. The best are the scenes between Howell and his sister (the apple down the shirt thing always gets me.) or of course the talking car "The door is ajar…" classic. With brief cameos from the Cusack siblings, this is a fun movie that I guess Jamie Lee hates in realty. Wow, harsh lady…harsh.
Grandview U.S.A means a lot to me simply because it was a favorite of mine around age 14/15, a fun summer movie, has some great lines like "Does a duck have lips?" and of course the fact I was able to write my very first movie review of this on 80's Movie rewind.
So head on over to Grandview and dance like a complete idiot!
3 1/2 stars!