Hard to Hold

Charisma-free uber-dork, now featuring ass, fronts aggressively banal film
★
☆☆☆☆
Released: 
1984
Director: 
Larry Peerce
Starring: 
Rick Springfield, Janet Eilber, Parri Hansen, Albert Salmi
The Setup: 
Rick Springfield plays a pop star who falls in love with a woman who doesn't know what a star he is and doesn't care.
Discussion: 

Ah, what the distance of time will do. My older sister was a moderate fan of Rick Springfield during his heyday, so I was very familiar with his records. At the time they sounded fine, he seemed like a hunk, and everybody was into him. I say this because, looking back at him now through this movie, he seems like the world's biggest, least attractive dork, and his music is utterly appalling! WHAT could anyone have been thinking?

This movie, directed by the fellow who brought us The Other Side of the Mountain parts I and II, as well as A Separate Peace, compiles virtually every rock cliché known to man into one repulsive package. It is clear that once the participation of then-star Springfield was secured, NO ONE felt that they needed to invest ANY more effort into any aspect of this production, and hoo boy does it show.

The first 60 seconds are not bad. Rick comes off stage all sweaty-we get a loving shot of his spangly belt-and we are led to believe that he's given his all for his ART! But lo-he still has to go out and deliver the encore! So he does, and we get this horrific song as the credits play. It quickly comes clear exactly how much of a star's coolness comes from the breathless media surrounding him or her, because here, stripped of the immediate excitement of seeing someone who IS a star, you're just sitting there watching this DORK strut around stage and sing this song that is so musically inert it's almost impossible to believe anyone bothered to produce it. THIS guy was a star? And I was there! I remember it! And none of it seemed so utterly lame at the time.

Anyway, so he comes offstage, where the security guards we see make no effort to restrain the rabid fans who have somehow gotten backstage. Rick takes a shower, while Nicky, a female member of his band, whose role is never delineated, gets pissed that he didn't introduce her as he promised. Everyone is basically telling her to piss off and deal with it, so she breaks a bottle and threatens them! At that point I was like YEAH! This movie is going to ROCK! Alas, it quickly deflated my hopes.

So Rick hears the ruckus and escapes into the venue hallway wearing nothing but a towel, and gets locked out! So he has to run around in front of his fans nearly naked! That is just so MADCAP, I simply cannot believe it. Here we get the first of Rick's NUMEROUS gratuitous ass shots, as he quite carefully arranges his towel from back to front in order to offer us-a gratuitous ass shot. The ass shots follow quite frequently just after, as he stands behind a rolling speaker which he maneuvers in such a way to expose his ass a good three times. Now, I guess if you're paying money to go to a movie to see a guy who is considered a hunk, you want something more than you can get on an album, but-isn't Rick embarrassed at essentially whoring himself like that? Apparently not.

Anyway, so Rick demands the pants of a co-worker, who happily obliges him, taking off his own pants right in the middle of everything [such a scathing statement about how people are willing to debase themselves for stars!]. Then Rick demands his car, and takes it. At this point one begins to think: Ya know, Rick is a real fucking asshole. I mean, WHY can't he introduce this chick in his band? Would it be so hard? And who is he to demand this guys' pants and car [which he promptly wrecks]? WHAT a goddamned prick. And it only gets worse.

So Rick smashes his friend's car into this woman's, and they bicker, wherein it is revealed that she doesn't know who he is [all ripped cleanly off from Singin' in the Rain]. He is of course smitten, and harasses her a few more times, which she rebuffs, which only makes him want her more. Finally he gets this horrid Italian singer and full band to serenade her with "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." You will notice that NO effort is made to synchronize the instruments with the music on the soundtrack. Rick is also always chiming in with "Isn't this guy great?" and "Yeah's!" every few seconds, when not gyrating around like an ass, until if I was his girlfriend I'd be like SHUT THE FUCK UP, RICK! I'M TRYING TO LISTEN TO THE GODDAMNED SONG! This serenade of course wins the woman's heart, and the next shot we see is of them waking up in bed together, leading to the most shamelessly gratuitous Rick ass shot of all, in which we CLOSE-UP ON RICK'S ASS for a second or two. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Rick Springfield has an ass.

By now that it is quite apparent that not only does Rick have an ass, Rick IS an ass, and he goes out of his way to BE an ass. What's more, the movie is not just banal, it is AGGRESSIVELY banal. NO ONE captured on film here can act. So what that means is that you are watching this pop star and various F-level actors go through this pantomime for 90 minutes, which is so unconvincing you half expect them to just laugh and call off the act at some point. They don't. And you start to realize that they are going to go through with this for the next 70 minutes, as though oblivious to the fact that no one believes one second of it. And go on with it they do.

There is some small bit of amusement in the fact that Rick's new girlfriend is this sex-crazed vixen who has no problem just throwing him out after a good [or, if I were to guess, quite mediocre] romp in the hay, but it needs to be saved for a better movie. Anyway, so then there's a lot of hugger-mugger about how Rick's band is floundering in trying to come up with new songs, including the cliché of the band standing around jamming while producing the most inane rock instrumental music possible. We also have the clichés of the band that turns every passing phrase into a possible song-they just can't stop CREATING!-and the pop star who sits down and writes the PERFECT song just as everyone loses hope and they need a hit in three and a half minutes or else.

It was impossible to understand how the "bad" music they were making was any worse than the "good" music they had made, and various reasons are offered up for Rick's drop in creative leadership. There's that the bad blood with Nicky [the one who threatened everyone with the broken bottle] is causing stress, and the competing theory that Rick's relationship with Diana [the other chick] is depleting his creative forces. The real reason is that this movie needs some conflict. At one point Diana INSISTS [over Rick's objections] that she talk with Nicky directly, and gives a long self-righteous speech about how SHE'S a therapist and SHE knows how to deal with disturbed people, but when her talk goes badly, she blames RICK for the whole thing! "I hate you!" she says. "Why?" he sensibly asks. "I just hate you!" is her answer. Thanks a lot, Ms. Superior therapist, filled with such insight into the human condition.

So soon we move on to the "conflict" portion of our movie, which includes the additional rock cliché of Rick throwing his headphones down in disgust because they just can't get the sound right! He is SUCH a perfectionist. This leads his manager or whoever to start carping about the cost of studio time [okay-all of this as though Rick is some sort of Brian Wilson who just needs to keep jamming in the studio until he gets the right inspiration]. Rick complains that the manager is being a jerk for carping on the costs of studio time. The manager responds "hey, my ass is on the line," to which Rick responds: "Your ass is OUT OF LINE!" Oooh-BURN!

So they decide that Rick and Nicky finally need to sit down and for Rick to fire her for real. Now, it seemed to me that Nicky HAD been fired about 300 times, she just kept showing up like some sort of psychotic. So Rick fires her, but in a NICE way. About this time, the viewer's impression of Rick as a fucking prick is really reinforced, as he is late for recording sessions and leaves early from them, not giving a shit about his band and how much time they're wasting, as well as how he's been stringing Nicky around. But we are expected to continue liking him as a person, because he is, after all, RICK SPRINGFIELD.

Then Diane's drunkard father abruptly dies, which, for some reason, means that she can no longer date Rick. We are treated to this utterly incompetent actress trying to have this big Oscar clip crying scene after she finds the body. Of course the real reason is that they need to break up 15 minutes before the end of the movie so they can make up in the final five. There is a love ballad montage. At one point Rick is chased quite aggressively by a group of fans while horror-type music plays. These folks really look like they're out to kill him. I don't understand.

Anyway, so Rick plays a final concert, wherein he wears these INSANELY MORONIC shoes [pictured], and at which he plays one of the hits from this movie, "Love Somebody" [I forgot to mention that we were treated to the other hit from this movie, "Bop 'Til You Drop,' during the JOGGING montage]. Obviously the message of this plaintive song, about how we all just have to overcome our differences and reach out to love one another, gets to Rick, and he leaves after his concert, finds Diane, and they make up just in time for the movie to be over. Only he tells her that he left 50,000 girls to be with her, which implies that he broke off the concert because he had to settle his affairs of the heart, when it is quite obvious that the concert was clearly over, making Rick a fucking LIAR as well as a goddamned prick. What a motherfucker.

I thought this movie would be kind of fun, and was looking forward to it. I got a few hoots of out of-mostly out of the bizarre conceit that this Springfield DORK was supposed to be attractive-but after a while it just wears so hard that I really cannot recommend that anyone else put themselves through it. I have sacrificed myself, so that you can spend your time watching a more enjoyable movie. I'm kind of like Jesus, that way.

Should you watch it: 

Not if you ask me. But if you must see it at all, say for completionist reasons, be sure to have the sanctuary of a nearby fast-forward button.