The Scoop: 1989 PG-13, directed by Joan Micklin Silver and starring Patrick Dempsey, Barbara Carrera, and Nancy Valen
Tagline: …he delivers.
Summary Capsule: A college student whose dad refuses to spring for his tuition decides to make money the old-fashioned way: being a pizza delivery gigolo for the wives of southern California. It’s so funny!
Kyle’s Rating: This is my summer job for the rest of the decade. Oh yeah!
Kyle’s Review: Based on a recommendation from Justin to review more films that are truly “cult,” I decided to check out IMDb.com to see how “cult” a lot of the films that I’ve been itching to review for a long time really were. It’s usually a crapshoot, examining the number of external reviews a film has and trying to ascertain its cult “rating” from that data. Star Wars Episode IV has 127, Sin City has 297, and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension has 39. Kind of weird, right? Anyway, while checking out this sort of stuff, I decided to check out Loverboy, since I was just curious what people thought of it. At which point I learned it had only six external reviews. Only six! That’s criminal!
So this is another Plain Clothes situation, I’d say. It’s up to me to champion a forgotten film. I love it! It’s times like these that I truly feel like a Mutant Reviewer. Fantastic!
Patrick Dempsey is best known right now for the television program Grey’s Anatomy, and I’m betting his most well-known film is probably Can’t Buy Me Love. Which I totally understand, although I never really got why Loverboy wasn’t more widely appreciated. It’s another one of those ‘80s movies (like Plain Clothes) that was on cable a lot when I was growing up and able to utilize the remote, and it taught me so much that I’ve decided I probably will go this week and pay $20 for the DVD, even though I rarely pay any more than $14 for single disc.
The plot is pretty cool, and could never ever be the basis of a film today. Dempsey plays Randy, a college student with a punk streak but also a hot upscale girlfriend (Nancy Valen), albeit a girlfriend that is getting tired of Randy’s partying and reluctance to tell his parents that the two of them are living together. Randy’s dad isn’t happy with Randy’s atrocious grades, and as a result refuses to send him back to waste tuition money on a useless education. Also, for reasons a little too complex to get into, the dad thinks Randy is gay and gets pretty antsy about that (humor!) while mom is more supportive; obviously in true comedy fashion neither parent asks their son about it, which is okay because a lot of the misconstrued conversations and stuff that fuel their misconceptions are pretty funny. Anyway, Randy finds a pizza delivery job and with the help of an older woman whom he charms in an amusing sequence, ends up with an interesting way to come up with a way to pay for his own tuition: whenever an interested and underappreciated southern California wife calls in an order for a pizza with extra anchovies, Randy delivers the pizza and a little something… extra. Hint, hint: it’s sex! Yep, he becomes a high-class prostitute. What can I say? When I was a kid, this was the greatest thing I had ever seen. Totally awesome!
Don’t expect the drama of American Gigolo, though. This is a total comedy, and the expected sex often takes a backseat to Randy just being a supportive and understanding person for various women to interact with. He sleeps with some of them, of course (see what I mean? Awesome!), but along the way he transforms from an immature punk with commitment issues into a romantic, attentive man. The better to win his girlfriend back, yeah? She doesn’t think he knows how to treat a woman, but doing stuff like teaching himself dance steps and learning all about fancy perfumes will certainly help (and make his dad wonder about his son’s sexual preference in the process [comedy!]). It’s a valuable lesson about becoming a better person that stays in the forefront, making you completely ignore the fact that, gee, he is pretty much a gigolo and if this were a girl sleeping with guys for tuition money, well, it’d be less “wow, it’s so funny and cool what he’s doing!” and more “whoa, she’s like a gigantic slut!” It’s all pretty awkward, actually, so it’s best not to think about it.
Dempsey is a big reason that works, though. He’s all rail-thin youthful charm with plenty of awkward bumbling (especially in the beginning) and has no problem with pratfalls or physical humor. He’s extremely charismatic, and I never understood why he essentially disappeared for a while (although once he popped up on Once & Again we knew it wouldn’t be long for him to come back, and now with Grey’s Anatomy it appears he has). You never doubt for a second that he’s energetic and appealing enough to win over lonely SoCal housewives (including a fabulous Kristie Alley and a semi-fabulous Carrie Fisher) yet loving enough to genuinely doing all this to get back to school and the girlfriend he loves. Yes, he’s spending his entire summer being a gigolo to a little under 50 women (based on a co-worker’s estimate), but he’s still dedicated to his girlfriend. Awkward message; see what I mean?
The rest of the cast is wonderful. All the needy wives are cool, and the three main cuckolded husbands that have the most potential to do Randy grievous harm if they catch him are superbly cast, especially Robert Picardo and Peter Koch as an enormous bodybuilder. As Randy’s parents, Robert Ginty and Kate Jackson are appropriately well-intentioned yet adorably clueless. Valen is gorgeous, Sal (Bernie Coulson) is a great friend, and Jory (Dylan Walsh) is the creep who wants Randy’s girlfriend. I really love Koch as an enormous dude is the most hurt that his wife is having an affair, mostly because seeing giant muscular guys crying is really funny.
Loverboy is your standard ‘80s slapstick comedy with more depth than expected. I absolutely love it. A genuinely funny premise with a charming Dempsey, all of which climaxes in his parents’ anniversary party, which would be a perfect moment for everything to come to light, eh? Don’t think about it too much: it’s great!
And for the literary-minded out there, you could write an entire college paper about the odd implications of Randy’s mother ordering a pizza with extra anchovies (wink, wink) expecting a wonderful gigolo, and Randy getting the shock of his life when he sees who he’s delivering to. Whoa!
- Those intruder alarm robots are pretty funny!
- When the husbands confront and absolutely demolish the guy they think has been sleeping with their wives, it’s brutal… but very funny!
Claude Delancy: I’ve got three charges for deliveries from some place called Senor Pizza.
Reed Palmer: So?
Claude Delancy: So they’re for $200 a pop. And Monica hates pizza!
Reed Palmer: Wait a minute. I’ve got five of those!
Harry Bruckner: [noticing about 30 such charges on his own bank statement] Oh, no…!
Randy: Well, it wasn’t exactly how I planned to spend my summer. It sort of just happened. Do you hate me?
Jenny: Well, how am I supposed to feel knowing that you slept with all of those women?
Randy: Well, see, now, the weird thing is I didn’t sleep with all of them. You know, they just wanted someone to make them feel special.
Jenny: Come on.
Randy: Jenny, there are a lot of women out there who don’t believe in love anymore. You know all they wanted was a little romance and a little respect. So I tried to give them what they missed.
Jenny: Are you telling me you did all this for them?
Randy: No, I did it because I had to pay my own tuition, you know, because I had to get back to you.
Jenny: And how would you feel if I said, um, I slept with all these guys this summer but hey: I did it for you?
Randy: I’d hate you.
Brad: Hi, I’m Brad.
Randy’s Dad: Hi, Brad.
Brad: Frosty beverage?
Randy’s Dad: No, Brad. No frosty beverages.
If you liked this movie, try these:
- Can’t Buy Me Love
- American Gigolo
- Sorority Boys