My recent viewing of A Night in Heaven and anticipated rental of The Blue Lagoon made me interested in further exploring the ouevre of Christopher Atkins [and after this and Blue Lagoon, I’ll be pretty much done]. And since this one also stars 70s teen icon Kristy McNichol, I thought “How can I go wrong?”
The movie opens with us watching an old pirate movie as this astonishingly cheesy disco song about pirates plays. This features “yo-ho-ho, pirates are we” type all-male singing making it sound like a renegade Village People song. The minute you hear this you start to think “What the hell am I in for?” Which turns out to be a very pertinent question.
So it seems that Kristy McNichol wears these hideously oversized flannel shirts [many do not acknowledge the seminal influence this film had on the emerging grunge scene] and these bizarrely huge glasses. This outfit, I think, is to remind us of her established image so far, from the TV show “Family” and such, setting us up for the attempted transition into adult vixen to occur later.
Anyway, she’s after Christopher Atkins, who is a fake pirate on an old tall ship docked down at the pier. All the other, bikini-clad girls, are also after Christopher, big time. They cruelly leave Kristy on a dock [after taking the fast food she’s brought] and take off with Chris in a boat. Kristy, in a move of utter desperation that turned me off to her right away, goes pathetically after Chris and the girls in a little sailboat. She is swamped and washes ashore, and she has a dream which comprises the rest of the movie.
In the dream we’re back in the 1880s and Kristy is the rich daughter of the major general. The pirates lurk just offshore, a dancin’ and a singin’ like pirates apparently do. This movie was shot at the time, 1982, where if you needed pirates for your movie you just put a flyer up at the local gym, which turns out to yield unexpected benefits for viewers of my persuasion. Yes, the pirates are all muscle guys with mustaches and developed arms and chests, wearing shirts open to their waists, if they wear a shirt at all. This led to a great deal of pause-button use on my DVD remote, all of which was amply rewarded. This is all accompanied by a mildly homo vibe [pirates, hello], and lots of attention to male crotches, noticeable in the bejeweled codpiece of the pirate king. But it had a dark side: note that at one point a Chinese man has his testicles cut off and it’s supposed to be funny.
So anyway, a bunch of maidens on a beach sing a Gilbert and Sullivan song—I mean straight Gilbert and Sullivan—the first moment of which gives the viewer another “HUH?” moment. The pirates come in to rape and pillage, and the women run off. By the way, also in here Christopher decides he no longer wants to be a pirate. There’s a LOT of story, most of which I’m going to skip as it is hardly the point of the movie anyway.
By this time one has noted the abundance of FILTHY double entendres. For example, Christopher picks up a maiden’s flowery crown and she runs off. He says: “I didn’t mean to deflower you!” There are many more along those lines, and many of them are a little shockingly ribald.
So Kristy meets Christopher, and they sing a number of delightfully cheesy teen ballads while one or the other of them is superimposed in the sky looking down. I think Kristy and Chris are doing their singing themselves [at least I hope those weren’t professionals], which also adds a nice touch. During this time Kristy also makes a few fourth-wall shattering quips directly to the camera. So avant-garde.
So it goes on, there’s some story or other, there’s a musical scene where animated fish sing “Pumpin’ and Blowin’,” and it builds toward a climax. Only now the whole thing has been on eleven for so long that the viewer is starting to get a little weary.
Blah de Blah, until it ends. Kristy turns out to be very charming and spunky, very different from her first scenes. Christopher is charming as well, but one feels bad for the way he is obviously only a sex object. I mean, so is Kristy, but that offers more career options to a woman, right or wrong.
It’s cute, it’s got hunks, and cheesy music. That’s awesome, but in the absence of a story can be a somewhat wearying thing.
It can’t hurt. It’s kind of cute, loopy, and fun, but definitely not essential cinema.