REVIEW: Senior Week (1987)

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1987, Upfront Films/Stuart Goldman Productions

Director:
Stuart Goldman
Producers:
Ken Schwenker
Matt Ferro
Writers:
Jan Kubicki (original screenplay)
Stuart Goldman (additional material)
Stacey Lynn Fravel (additional material)
Cinematography:
John A. Corso
Editing:
Nicholas Dama

Cast:
Michael St. Gerard (Everett MacDill)
Leesa Bryte (Stacy)
Jennifer Gorey (Tracy)
George Klek (Jamie)
Alan Naggar (Kevin)
Gary Kerr (Jody)
Devon Skye (Debbie Sue)
Barbara Gruen (Mrs. Bagley)
Gordon MacDonald (Lance)
Joe Calabria (Lifeguard)
Jayne Poteet (The Girl from the Magazine)

This 80’s teen comedy caused quite an uproar upon its release. However, the overall film is quite a funny teen comedy about chaos ensuing when a group of high schoolers from Jersey go to Florida.

It’s the last day of school and high school senior Everett MacDill has had a nightmare about not graduating. His premonition has come true when he learns that his English teacher, Mrs. Bagley, has failed him for his constant delinquent behavior. Desperate, Everett concocts a story that his mother had passed away and her dying wish was to have Everett graduate. Mrs. Bagley, one who can sympathize, gives him one last chance. She assigns him a final term paper in which he agrees.

However, unbeknownst to his friends Jamie and Kevin, Everett has plans for the upcoming Senior Week. Seeing a magazine, Everett decides to go to Florida and he brings along residential nerd Jody to help him write his term paper upon the condition he can get him a girl. Things start to go bad when Jamie’s dominating girlfriend Tracy learns of the trip via collect call and she brings her best friend Stacy with her. It gets worse when Jody knows he’s been shanghaied and has had it with Everett. However, luckily for Jody, he finds a girl of his own, Tracy’s cousin Debbie Sue. But things are about to go from worse to downright chaotic when Mrs. Bagley has learned of the ruse and heads to Florida herself and a rich pompous boy who attempted to steal Tracy makes trouble for the gang.

In the 80’s, the teen comedy was one of the top subgenres of comedy films thanks in part to classics such as the Porky’s trilogy and Revenge of the Nerds. Capitalizing on this, many independent and lower-budgeted filmmakers made their own teen comedies that were not so much as raunchy as today’s teen comedies, but had the required “T n A”. Filmed in New Jersey and Daytona Beach, Florida, this film was shot in the summer of 1987 but not released until a year and a half later, where controversy had struck because of the film’s opening scene.

The opening scene, where our main character Everett is in a classroom that looks like the J Geils Band’s music video for their 1982 hit song “Centerfold” has the teacher and four other students going topless. Now, it must be noted that all of the film’s dream sequences are the only scenes that have the required “T” in these teen comedies and altogether, it’s not even one-tenth of the film’s running time. However, upon learning of the opening scene, Palisades Park High School principal Nicholas Rotonda was suspended for twelve days for allowing the film crew to shoot without permission from the board. However, this has long been disputed but the controversy appeared in print and even on the TV show A Current Affair.

Nevertheless, the film’s actual highlight is not so much the minimal raunchiness, but it’s just about seeing a group of guys, namely the trio of Everett, Jamie, and Kevin, having fun in Florida by hanging at the beach, having fun at an arcade, and in Kevin’s case, a hilarious dance with a stuffed animal at a nightclub. All of the young stars made their film debut here, but the one to capitalize the most was that of Everett himself, Michael St. Gerard, who would go on to play Link Larkin in John Waters’ original hit film Hairspray and had the distinction to play Elvis not once, but twice, due to his striking resemblance, in 1989’s Great Balls of Fire and the 1990 TV-mini series Elvis. One of the most hilarious scenes take place when Everett and Kevin get hungry and decide to get a hoagie. Seeing this film, one line can never be forgotten: “Tell them to read the fxxkin’ sign!”

Also noteworthy of the film is Barbara Gruen as Mrs. Bagley, the English teacher who is out to make Everett’s life a living hell. Gruen is funny as Bagley, due to how she conveys Bagley’s voice. When she shows Everett what she had lost after his cock and bull story about his mother, the look on Everett’s face is priceless. She even invades Everett’s second dream and makes it a nightmare! However, in the funniest twist to this piece of the story, she ends up having the local lifeguard, who sounds like he could be from the Tri-State area, totally hit on her.

If you can get your hands on the film, Senior Week is actually one of the better indie teen comedies of the 80’s, thanks to its young cast and Barbara Gruen’s funny take on the high school teacher. Despite the controversy of the film’s opening dream sequence, it’s just about a bunch of guys enjoying their last week before graduation. As an added bonus, the soundtrack, comprised mostly of 60’s teen songs, is quite an added touch.

WFG RATING: B+

VHS

The film is also available on Amazon Prime to view. A big Thank You goes out to the film’s director, Stuart Goldman, who informed me of the news

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