Foxes

Thirteen bucks and no dip
★★★
☆☆
Released: 
1980
Director: 
Adrian Lyne
Starring: 
Jodie Foster, Cherie Currie, Marilyn Kagan, Scott Baio, Salley Kellerman
The Setup: 
Slice-o-life of dangerously mature Beverly Hills kids in the late 70s.
Discussion: 

My friend who recommended the choice picks Roller Boogie and Over The Edge rather insisted that I watch this movie during a long discussion pertaining to the teen movies of the 70s and 80s. So, whatever, I threw this to the top of my list. I’m dying to see that one with Kristy McNichol where she wants to lose her virginity, too.

Boy, I’m thirsty. I am writing this during the longest subway ride in recorded history.

So we open with our foxes all laid out like sleeping nymphs as we hear the gentle strains of a familiar tune; why, it’s “On The Radio!” And soon we see that Giorgio Moroder did all of the music for this film. And then we start to feel HOT. It doesn’t last. But the opening with our sleeping sunlit babes is very much in the tradition of the director, Adrian Lyne, who went on to do Fatal Attraction, Flashdance, 9 1/2 Weeks and the fucking amazing version of Lolita that caused such controversy in its day.

Anyway, so Jodie, as Jeannie, wakes in her “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” T shirt, which somehow comes off as cheekily obscene. Also present are the pretty Deirdre and the pudgy Madge, and Cherie Currie, lead singer of the Runaways [which also featured Joan Jett] as Annie. The girls are unable to wake Annie because she has done quaaludes. I wonder if you’ll perceive this are foresaging what is to come? They have to throw water on her face to wake her up.

But the morning’s not over. First Jodie goes into her Mom’s room to steal some money, and finds that Mom is in bed with some guy. Then after a quick breakfast of cereal—and these reckless teen destructos DO leave the milk out to spoil—they encounter a policeman on the doorstep. This is Annie’s father, who has been looking for her, and who rushes through the house after her in a murderous rage, forcing her to escape through an upstairs window to the roof. And it’s not even 9AM!

So it’s off to school, which is the corresponding institution… on the brink. Kids are spiking their orange crush with vodka in the halls. That one guy from Ridgemont is here are Jodie’s sleazebag boyfriend. Scott Baio is a sensitive skateboarder. It’s all so hard-hitting, although looking back, all that reckless 70s teen behavior seems… SO CUTE!

After school [or during, forget which] Jodie takes her truck to Hollywood Boulevard to look for Annie. This leads her to a discussion with Dragon the pimp, in his own way worth watching the movie for. But we’re supposed to be gasping that this worldly 16-year-old girl is speaking with a pimp, looking for her friend, who may in fact be working the streets. And we are shocked. SHOCKED.

So they find Annie with a buncha bikers [or was that the sleazeball from Ridgemont? I can’t remember, but I know he’s here] and after a ruckus which draws the ire of Annie’s biker BF toward the valiant-hearted Scott Baio. They escape with her, and inform her that her father wants to put her in an institution. Then there’s a lot of hugger-mugger and teen girl manipulation about who’s going to that night’s Angel concert with whom, and then the concert.

At the concert the guys sing “20th Century Foxes” as the guitarist shakes up his beer and spews its thick white foam all over the faces of the crowd as he holds the bottle in his crotch. It reminds me of… strawberries, I don’t know why. After the concert, they and several of their friends repair to Madge’s house for a party, for which Madge’s hip mom has provided a keg for. But rather than be congratulated on how very hip she is, Madge’s Mom is bummed to discover that these kids require drugs harder than she is willing or able to provide, and her efforts go unappreciated. Well I guess that’s it, Mom, cough up the hard narcotics or just don’t even bother, okay?

Meanwhile Madge is seeing this older man played by Randy Quaid as some sort of record executive. The kind of adult man who sees nothing wrong with dating a 16-year-old girl. He’s going away for a while and he tells Madge she can stay at his house—because of course she could not endure the indignity of living with an unhip Mom. Now, I hope you don’t suspect that Madge is going to host a party at that house, which is in fact going to virtually destroy the house. You don’t suspect that at all, do you?

I suspect you’re onto the fact that the dark side of being a fox is beginning to assert itself. Yes, the house gets trashed, there are some comeuppances, someone dies, Scott Baio has a really rad skateboard chase, and life goes on. And somewhere in here Jodie’s Mom Sally Kellerman gets a speech in which she yells “You’re beautiful. All of you. You make me hate my hips! I hate—I hate my hips!”

We also have the notable quote “Thirteen bucks and no dip,” delivered in appaisal of another fox’s grocery shopping skills. Anyway, by the end we’ve all come to a fuller appreciation of what it means to be human and how life is fleeting and you have to find those little moments of grace and mothers and daughters can find common ground and we should all recycle.

It wasn’t bad. The first part, where it’s just teens gone wild, is a little better, just because we haven’t started getting messages about the dark side of those neon nights and kids on the edge, etc. Jodie is very good throughout. I was interested to see how she did, because she’s not someone I would immediately associate with a teen girl gone crazed, but she sells it by being the most responsible of her group, and also by lending the impression that she’s acting out precisely because she’s so smart and yet hormonal and bored. Cherie Curie is also good. And it’s kind of amusingly aimless until it gets tediously aimless, but by then people are dying and bad stuff is happening, so there’s that to keep your interest.

Now, you recall that I said the Moroder music got tedious. That’s because we KEEP hearing “On The Radio” at every turn, and what, dear reader, does “On The Radio” have to do with teens living on the edge? Did someone find a letter Jodie wrote them on the radio? And did they tell the world just how she felt? WHAT does that song have to DO with this movie? Nothing—it’s just that Moroder was hired to do this movie and I guess he had that song to promote at the time… It’ a little like having “Hit Me Baby One More Time” be the theme song from Titanic. Okay, that would be utterly fabulous, and might have single-handedly redeemed the movie, but you know what I mean.
The trailer, included on the disc, repeats the line “Foxes: they dare to do what others only dream of,” implying [and trying to get you into the theater with the lure that] the movie will be all about hot vixens using their wiles to do all manner of wicked things horny straight guys might want to see. They’d be disappointed to find it’s a bit more toward the somber for that.

Anyway, amusing enough, if you like “hard-hitting” movies about youth gone crazy in a world gone mad… and all that.

Should you watch it: 

If you’re into that sort of thing.