- Movie Rating -

Foxes (1980)

| February 29, 1980

Doing some research, I was kind of disturbed by the advertising for this movie.  The ads for Foxes sell it as a movie about girls gone wild, about four young teenagers whose preoccupation with sex, drugs and rock and roll were the template for a lurid sex fantasy.  Who did they think they were selling it to?

In fact, while the movie does contain these things, it is much more sensitive than the ads would lead us to believe.  Jodie Foster plays the defacto leader of a quartet of high school girls whose lack of parental guidance has permitted a string of bad behavior – the aforementioned sex, drugs and rock and roll.  But what makes it work are the relationships between these girls.  It is hard to admire how they live their lives but we admire them as human beings.  They’re damaged, but its not irreparable.

The movie is very geographically specific.  This is the San Fernando Valley and all four girls are the products of broken homes and have no place to go but into the subculture that provides unhealthy choices.  One great insight into the film is the idea that not every good kid who does bad things is inherently going to be a criminal.  Sometimes they made bad choices – sometimes they recover and sometimes they do not.

The girls, Jeanie (Foster), Madge (Marilyn Kagan), Annie (Cherie Curry of The Runaways) and Dierdre (Kandice Stroh) seem to have formed a pack.  They spend most of their time together, sleeping over at each other’s houses, going to school and hanging out.  In that way, this group has somehow formed a family, one that replaces the rather unhappy unions that have been thrust upon them by their traditional families.  The girls are all fully in their teens, when they are expected to behave like little adults but at the same time are still in the mold of still being kids.  They’re also not yet in the mental range where peer pressure and instant gratification don’t have barriers – and with the availability of drugs and booze and sex at their disposal, it’s a dangerous and crooked world.

The film’s major focus falls on Jeanie, a girl that we sense can rise out of this tempting pit of despair.  She’s intelligent, resourceful, has a leadership ethic and has managed to survive a family dynamic that is not exactly Ozzie and Harriet.  Her mother (Sally Kellerman) is a mess.  At 40, she’s falling into bad relationships and unhealthy choices almost as a routine.  The human element is provided by the fact that she recognizes this and has deep regrets.  Jeanie sees this and understands what a detriment it all is, but that doesn’t mean that she goes to great pains to stray away from the temptations around her. 

What I like about the film is the way in which the plot is loose enough that it gets out of the character’s way.  If it has a tight plot or a tight third-act (maybe the girls running from a killer pimp) then it wouldn’t have the life-goes-on feel that makes it special.  I never sensed the movie that the advertising was trying to sell me.  I never sensed and exploitation picture.  I sensed a movie that moves with the rhythms and patterns of real life.  This is a good movie.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1980) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized