dvd review: SOME GIRLS

some-girls.jpgThe hit television series Grey’s Anatomy has always had one thing that’s kept me from watching it, and that one thing would be actor Patrick Dempsey. Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know…Dempsey is that heartthrob doctor everyone loves, who is sooooo dreamy and sooooo sextacular. But ever since he was a teen idol back in the 1980s, Dempsey has gotten on my nerves. And even though movies like Can’t Buy Me Love and Loverboy were never on the top of my list to watch, because I was working at a video store in those days, it seems like I saw every movie starring this clown. But in the back of my mind something was telling me that Some Girls was not nearly as bad as garbage like In the Mood and Happy Together; so I figured that I would give it another chance, twenty years after the fact.

Not ten minutes into Some Girls came the brutal reminder of what I didn’t like about the movie in the first place—it is a Patrick Dempsey vehicle. This was a film that was built around whatever perceived talent he had back in the mid 80s, and that was none. But somewhere at some mall in middle-America, he was testing well with teen girls, who found him dreamily hunkish in Can’t Buy Me Love—one of the many fetid teen romances of that era that helped pollute the minds of my generation—and it was determined that Dempsey could carry a film. And as bad as he is, as much as he makes my skin crawl, he’s got nothing on the two Coreys, or Andrew McCarthy. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that ten minutes into Some Girls, you simply want to choke the schmuck.

Dempsey stars as college student Michael (the typical hapless jackass that defined his early career), who is reeling from the sudden departure of his girlfriend Gaby (Jennifer Connelly). It seems Gaby just disappeared from college one day to return home, with no real explanation other than her grandmother was ill. When Gaby contacts Michael and invites him to spend the holidays with her and her family, he jumps at the opportunity. But as he waits at the airport for Gaby, who is hours late in picking him up—his sad puppy dog eyes staring off in bewilderment—he wonders what he’s gotten himself into. And because all of this goes down in less than ten minutes, unless you’re a huge Dempsey fan, you will also be wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into.

Once Gaby arrives and takes Michael to the family home—a palatial estate if there ever was one—he is introduced to the eccentric D’Arc family, which includes a father (Andre Gregory) who walks around the house naked, a mother (Florinda Bolkan) who looks like she is perpetually pissed off, and Gaby’s two sisters, Simone (Ashley Greenfield) and Irenka (Sheila Kelley). Things begin to get complicated when Gaby tells Michael that she no longer loves him, and the reason she invited him for the holidays was to break up with him. This is the point where our hero should have simply turned around and headed home. Instead, he toughs it out, and ends up meeting Granny (Lila Kedrova), Gaby’s grandmother who has been afflicted with Alzheimer’s, and become convinced that Michael is her dead husband. And just when things couldn’t get any worse, both Simone and Irenka attempt to seduce Michael, while Gaby continues to send the poor idiot mixed signals. When Granny escapes from her care facility, Michael joins Gaby, Irenka, and her boyfriend on a rescue mission.

Some Girls is an interesting movie if for no other reason than it is trying to be more that the typical stupid, teen sex comedy. On one hand, that’s exactly what the film is, especially during the first act. But in the second act, when Granny disappears, and Michael and the others go looking for her, the film transforms itself into something quite different. When it is Michael who stumbles across Granny, and she still thinks that he is her dead husband, the film then shifts gears into a strangely sweet tale of the relationship that develops between the two. This is when things start to actually get interesting, but unfortunately, this is nearly two-thirds of the way into Some Girls, and by this time too much time has been wasted on Gaby, who is nothing more than a wishy-washy cocktease. In fact, the portrayal of Gaby as such a vapid character goes a long way in driving the audience to the brink of indifference when it comes to seeing her and Michael work it out. And the fact that Michael has relatively limited amounts of anything resembling charisma or appeal makes it difficult to understand why any woman would fall for him.

Both director Mike Hoffman and writer Rupert Walters can take the praise and blame for the success and failure of Some Girls. Hoffman’s direction is solid, and it is clear that he wants this film to be more than similar films of the era. The same is true for Walters’ script; accept, of course, for the ridiculous voice-over narration throughout the film that seems to be there to explain things to the audience. Michael’s insipid narration through the entire movie plays out like a studio executive’s hasty decision made after a poor test screening in New Jersey.

Some Girls is one of those lost “gems” from the 1980s which is not nearly as precious as it seemed twenty years ago. It certainly has its moments, but even those suffer under the shadow of Dempsey. The film loses much of the depth and emotional resonance it is striving for, simply because he is on the screen. At the same time, it does hold up better than a lot of the other films from this era. Those that were die-hard fans of Some Girls when it came out in 1988 will most likely still be enthralled by it, and want to revisit it on DVD. But if you didn’t see the film during its first go-around in theaters and on VHS, then it is up to you to decide if a young Patrick Dempsey, displaying all the charisma of a rotting avocado, is something you want to subject yourself to.


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