Sunday, August 21, 2016

Firstborn (1984)

 Firstborn (1984)

Plot - Teenager Jake Livingston was pretty content with life. A star athlete, a wonderful girlfriend, a great group of friends, and the fact he's been the man of the house to his mother and younger brother since his parents divorced a few years perviously. All seems to be going fine until one day his mother brings home Sam, a shady character who moves in and instantly shows his abusive side while getting his mother hooked on drugs. Can Jake take a stand and figure out how to get Sam to leave for good?

LOWDOWN - I first saw this movie years ago on cable late one night.  The big reason why I stayed up so late to watch this movie was because of star Christopher Collet (Best known for his role in the 1983 slasher Sleepaway Camp) I had seen Christopher in several movies in the 1980's, but this one by far struck my interest because of the all star cast. You had Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert Downey Jr, Teri Garr, Peter Weller, and Corey Haim. Usually dramas weren't really my thing, but the film instantly caught my interest when the killer soundtrack started blasting. There are few movies that I can say have basically a near perfect soundtrack. This is one of them.

I'm sure many of you are scratching your heads simply because I usually don't review films like this. Well, waiting to shake things up a bit I dug out my blu-ray to this movie thanks to Olive films and re-watched it last night with one of my friends. This is a movie I'm completely stunned got the blu-ray treatment, but am forever grateful simply because this was one of the many lost gems from this decade that was overshadowed by much bigger films. This is a straight forward drama, with a very talented cast which deals with some serious and heavy subject matter.

It tells the tale about the typical middle class suburban family. How Wendy is a stay at home mother, constantly having to keep up with two very active boys. Here she's dated around since her divorce, which is clear she still isn't over since when she receives news of her ex husband being back in town she hires a whole cleaning crew to jazz up her house, and dresses up nice expecting him to invite her to dinner. Sadly, in a soul crushing moment the ex husband informs his two sons when he picks them up and he's girlfriend is waiting at the hotel. The look on Wendy's face is not just embarrassed, but a little ashamed as well. That night during dinner, both boys are informed that his father will be re-marrying which means there will never be a chance for the two parents to ever get together again.

Shortly after Jake and Brian witness Sam (played wonderful by Peter Weller, who was KILLING it in the 80's with his roles.) at their house. Quickly things begin to move fast. Sam is a big idea man with huge plans, but honestly seems to be a con artist who's more than a little "off" Right away Jake, who's very mature for his age begins to notice this. Sam always has a different story, always has a get rich quick idea, and seems to have a hair trigger temper despite his attempt to win the boys over. The abuse starts very slow, shoves, threats, and sadly for Jake there's nowhere to go, not even his mother. I really gotta hand it to Weller and Collet. There scenes were FILLED with tension. Mostly the one where Jake is working out and Sam strolls in basically telling him to stop being a little bitch and running to his mother if he has a problem with him.

As a drama, scenes like this is what makes the movie. Sam wasn't some over the top villain. He was simply a bad guy who took advantage. Sadly Wendy, almost wanting to get back at her ex husband allows Sam to do this, turning a blind eye on his behavior and constantly defending him, feeling as if she's owed something. Quickly she begins to neglect her children, leaving them alone, vulnerable to the sketchy characters are come and go in their house. Slowly Jake's entire world starts to come crashing down and no longer can he be a carefree teenager. Instead, he has massive pressure at home looking after his younger brother who's acting out, as well as watching his mother begin to get hooked on heavy drugs and become unable to even show up to his brother's school.

I'm sure most of you are saying this movie sounds terrible. A big depressing letdown. In all honestly, as heavy as the subject matter is this is an excellent drama. that's wonderfully written. There are powerhouse performances as we witness Jake become a man, and do whatever he can to defend himself and his brother against this nut job. Sure the ending I feel could of packed a little more to it, but it's a great showcase of the talent behind this movie. Olive Films transferred this film into stunning crystal clear HD. Check out right away, a must for any fan of the 80's.


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