Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on August 23, 1985
Directed by Rod Daniel
Written by Jeph Loeb and Matthew Weisman
Cast: Michael J. Fox, James Hampton, Susan Ursitti, Jay Tarses, Lorie Griffin, Mark Arnold, Jerry Levine, Matt Adler, Mark Holton, Doug Savant, Troy Evans, Scott Paulin, Gregory Itzin
A high school take on the werewolf legend that won’t make you forget The Wolf Man, An American Werewolf in London, or even I Was a Teenage Werewolf, and with basketball as a backdrop, you won’t be forgetting Hoosiers, either. However, if you’re looking for a cross between a tame horror movie and a typical ’80s teen comedy, that offers a likeable Michael J. Fox, a believable and touching relationship between a father and son, and a story that’s not too taxing on your thought processes, then maybe Teen Wolf will fill your needs.
Fox stars as seventeen-year-old Scott Howard, who yearns to be more popular and dreams of hooking up with the foxiest girl in school, a bitchy sexpot that all the guys inexplicably crave; he gets his wishes when he discovers he can transform into a werewolf, apparently at will, and uses his new-found wolfen attributes to his confidence-building and coolness-achieving advantage. Suddenly, before you can say ‘improbable transformation in more ways than one’, this hairy freak of a high schooler does indeed become the most popular dude in class, who not only leads his once-hopeless basketball team to the finals, but somehow attracts the eyes and attentions of the bitchy sexpot. Sure.
If your wondering if I’m maybe being too hard on Teen Wolf, yeah, I probably am; the film was actually quite harmless, in a goofy, stupid kind of way, and not only was Fox engaging as always, but so were James Hampton (as the understanding father) and Jay Tarses (as the coach), who to me delivered the most natural and interesting portrayals of all. I was even charmed by Susan Ursitti, playing the oddly-named Boof—the latter half of the age-old ‘guy wants hot girl when better girl is right there waiting’ scenario—who sadly didn’t really have a whole lot to offer story-wise.
And you can’t argue with a successful box office, either, which this film most certainly had back in 1985. But with a summer that included the vastly-superior Back to the Future, I found it hard to feel the same happy-go-lucky mid-’80s vibe that Teen Wolf attempted to deliver, and in the end, though there were lessons to be learned about popularity and being who you are instead of trying to be someone else, I just couldn’t ignore how run-of-the-mill and silly it all was. And yes, there was a sequel, starring Jason Bateman, and yes, there was going to be another sequel, starring Alyssa Milano as—wait for it—a hockey-playing white werewolf! Good lord! (4/10)