There were some great teen movies in the 80s, like The Breakfast Club and Better Off Dead

There were some great teen movies in the 80s, like The Breakfast Club and Better Off Dead

Why is the movie set in the 80s? Perhaps because it would make it more appropriate to have the ordinary-looking leading boy date a girl out of his league and make it look like his tubby stoner friend might hook up with a really hot girl (I can only hope that doesn’t actually happen, but who knows). And as cover to make a movie which can, with no excuses, give all the personality and angst to the boys while the girls fulfill their role as cardboard cutouts with hot bodies.

The first thing to consider with a period piece is why is it set in the past or future and is that totally necessary to tell the story?

All of which I could put up with if the show were actually funny, but outside of an amusing opening scene where a heart attack causes an unfortunate series of confessions and some well-delivered lines from a tennis pro there’s really nothing of note in the pilot. Maybe the rest of the series improves, but as someone who preferred 16 Candles to Caddyshack, I don’t care to find out.

I don’t think “I would hit that” was an expression back then. Unless they really want to show off horrible clothes and hair and feature some of the worst music I’ve ever heard from that era I don’t get the period piece thing at all. There’s no reason this story couldn’t be about today and it should be.

The best joke came when the photographer tool is talking about his job at the club and how it “lets me pursue my real passion” and the kid interrupts with, “Magic?” This was followed very closely by his dad saying that when it comes to grades a C is a Jewish F. The Indian tennis pro is really good as well as his stoner friend and both are funny. I like where they were going with the theme of trying to do something other than what everyone else does and what everyone else expects of you.

There were also a lot of really stupid movies about sex-obsessed boys “coming of age,” and based on the pilot, that’s what Red Oaks is

I’d watch this if it gets picked up. I panned The Cosmopolitans in another review but I don’t know how we’re supposed to vote on these.

Doesn’t have the heart or the smarts of “Transparent” or “Catastrophe,” but this new series from Amazon is still worth watching. Set at a north Jersey country club in ’85, the show has a long pedigree, going back to “Goodbye, Columbus” and “The Flamingo Kid” (among many others), but the retro touches aren’t laid on too thick, and the writers come up with enough original notions-a smug Turkish tennis pro at a Jewish club, a polyamorous dentist and his randy hygienist wife, a smarmy wedding photog who natters about his “Jacooze”-to keep things from getting too generic.

Craig Roberts, yet another job-stealing Brit (“Suberican, makes a likable protagonist, and the attractive young cast does very well, esp. Alexandra Socha as an attitudinous artgirl and Oliver Cooper (the needy little bastard on “Californication”) as a stoner parking valet; “georgeous” Alexandra Turshen deserves special mention for her flawless Jersey Girl accent. Richard Kind as the schlumpfy dad and Paul Reiser (who’s really come into his own as a silver-fox character actor) as the hard-charging club president are totally in their element here, and exec producer Steven Soderbergh has signed up a couple of veteran film directors-David Gordon Green, Hal Hartley and Amy Heckerling-to keep things moving along.

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