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2/18/18 Episode 89: Joysticks (1983)

Listen to the Let's Watch A Full-Length Movie on YouTube podcast and watch Joysticks (1983), embedded above, at the same time. Start with the podcast. Click here to launch the podcast in separate browser tab.

Porky's (1981) and National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) might had launched the teen sex comedy genre, but both films were set in the 1960s and were aimed for nostalgic old people. It would take a bold picture like Joysticks (1983) to set the action, for youth's sake, in the present day world of video game arcades.  Director Greydon Clarke (God bless him and his preppy name) shot this under 3 weeks, yet Joysticks remains evergreen. It shoves dated fads into a genre formula. It's Pac-Man footage mixed in with topless women. It's the gold standard of teen sex comedies.

Great cast, this movie. Jon Gries is fearless as punk rocker King Videot. Joe Don Baker and his henchmen (including character actor Jon Diehl) grimace and huff the story along. Jim Greenleaf (who, Carl says, got into an awful car accident afterwards) plays the slob with a bit of gravitas.

Not only does Pac-Man (and Super Pac-Man) play a big role in Joysticks, the yellow dot eater appears onscreen, chomping from the left side of the screen to the right, as a transitional "wipe" to get to the next scene. What I don't get is how Clarke doesn't just use this wipe not to reveal a new scene. In the town hall meeting (which Carl aptly points out happens in Act 2, not Act 3), the Pac-Man wipe is used to indicate time has passed. It's jarring to see a full-screen wipe cut from one location to the same location.

You can see Clarke's own generation pop up throughout. The arcade has a soda fountain counter, the bad guys disguise themselves as teenagers by dressing up as hippies, the plot is warmed-over Music Man (1962), and, straight out of the Playboy Philosophy, when the men speak, they are usually flanked with blonde women surrounding them.

I can't recommend this movie enough. Again, it's the gold standard of teen sex comedies.

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