Grandview U.S.A - The ultimate summer movie.
PLOT - Tim Peterson is on the verge of graduating high school from his small Mid-Western hometown of Grandview. Ready to start a life outside of the life he's always known, he inspires not to follow in his father's footsteps and actually take a chance following his dreams. It isn't until one fateful night after some car trouble he lands up at Cody's Speedway, a demolition derby run by the beautiful and mysterious Mike Cody. Here Tim falls head over heels for this slightly older woman who not only has captured his heart, but one of her old school chums who happens to be the star driver at the derby.
LOWDOWN - I believe it was the summer of 2003 or 04 when I discovered C. Thomas Howell. Sure I had grown up on the classic Red Dawn, but it wasn't until the 8th grade when they showed The Outsiders when I saw this adorable young actor, and instantly began exploring his other works. Howell for a brief time actually had a pretty decent career. (That was until Soul Man...) but between ET, The Outsiders, Red Dawn, Secret Admirer, The Hitcher (one of my personal favorites) Kid, Sideout, and of course Grandview USA. This one by far has to be the most underrated as well as one of the most re-watchable films I remember viewing on a loop at that age. My mother always said I was born two decades too late. While other girls swooned over boy bands I had a movie crush on some very interesting choices. One of the most "pretty" of these was Howell. I still remember like it was yesterday catching this movie just by chance on TV and recording it. So far, that's the only copy I own of this film but know it's a must have to own not only on VHS but blu-ray as well! (The fact THIS movie is on blu-ray makes me smile and yet again repeat "What a time to be alive!" This film is best known for it's star packed cast, and MTV style of filming. We get an actual pretty decent story of a young man desperate to break away from his small town life, and going against everything he knows, including his town, and own father to do what is right. The romance believe it or not didn't seem forced, as did the little triangle that went on between the three leads. This was at a time when 80's movies were being cranked out one after another. It was clear they wanted to cash in on three very popular names.
Directed by the came guy who did the Blue Lagoon, and Grease, this movie for sure screams the early to mid 1980's. One of the best things about it is the soundtrack. As a young pre-teen I adored the posters for this movie, the songs, the settling, and yes the summer feeling that Tim felt as he was on the verge of starting his own life. I haven't seen this movie in some time, but the last time I did I honestly couldn't stop smiling at the end when Tim takes the car and drives away smiling ready to start the next chapter.
Playing opposite of Howell is the beautiful Jamie Lee Curtis. This was at a time when she was breaking away from her slasher/horror roles and was being recognized for her insane body (Trading Places, Perfect) I'm not too sure if Curtis was indeed the best part to play Mike. Sure she's a tomboy, but as good of a performance as she did, I hate to admit she lacked chemistry between both male leads. Still, it was interesting to see this sort of character. One of her best moments (Besides wearing a chain skirt in the MTV dream scene.) was when she stands up to the town council. It's a small brief scene, but shows what a great actress Curtis was even back then.
On the other hand, Curtis doesn't exactly look back on this role with fond memories...
"A movie called Grandview USA, which is this benign bad coming of age movie. Which is just bad. It's laughable, ludicrous film and I'm bad in it...it's nasty." - Jamie Lee Curtis.
Can't you feel the love?
After that there's the late and awesome Patrick Swayze. This was at a time when he was cranking out movies pretty quickly and had returned yet again with his co-star from The Outsiders and Red Dawn with Howell. He doesn't exactly play the most likable character, but you can't help but sorta root for him. Here's this guy who's only pleasure in life is being a star driver at a failing derby. He married one of his fans (A young and beautiful Jennifer Jason Leigh, who later went to star with Howell in The Hitcher.) and instantly fell into a bad marriage with her being so young. In the classic case of a man who reached his highest point in high school, he lives a rather miserable life, suspecting that his wife is cheating on him as his life slowly falls apart. Swayze truly shines at the end when he gets the ultimate revenge when he legit bulldozes his wife's house down while she's with her love. I always crack up when the police arrive and he's laughing doing flips on his truck saying to lock him up. That it should be a crime to feel this good. Swayze, you truly were a legend.
With brief roles by John Phibin and John and Joan Cusack, this movie is filled with laughable moments, some bad acting, and some VERY 80's dream scenes. I say it's one of the underrated Brat Pack movies. It doesn't exactly have the Brat Pack members in it, but enough 80's actors to make it count, and a must of you love that era in life or teen movies in general. One of my favorite moments has to be after C. Thomas Howell and Jamie Lee Curtis sleep together, how that song "Driving in the hot summer sun." plays as she teaches him how to drive in the derby. Very 80's. and very romantic.
Another reason why I think I love this movie so much is because it's the VERY first movie I ever reviewed. I summited this piece at 80's Movie Rewind years ago (sorry for the bad writing, I was young!) and even printed it out and had one of my English teachers look it over. I would like to think that this very article was what inspired me to continue reviewing films.
So if you can't find the movie on tape on blu-ray look it up and YouTube and enjoy this summer. Grandview USA all the way!!!