- Movie Rating -

Reckless (1984)

| February 4, 1983

Well, somebody has been gorging on a steady diet of Marlon Brando and James Dean pictures.  Reckless is a movie that comes right off the assembly line of those old Angry Youth pictures of the 1950s.  There’s a high school, a motorcycle, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks and a girl from the right side of the tracks.  And, of course, they both look like they’re pushing 30.

The kid is named Johnny (Aiden Quinn) and he’s been t-r-o-u-b-l-e since the cradle.  Despite his success on the football team, he’s got all the Outcast checkmarks.  He’s a loser in a leather jacket, his dad is a worthless drunk, the preppies at school dismiss him, and he spends an unhealthy amount of time with this motorcycle.  The only thing missing is having his solitude backed up by Bobby Vinton’s “Mr. Lonely.”

At a school dance with other teenagers who look 25, he meets the beautiful Tracey Prescott (Daryl Hannah), a nice cheerleader with a rich daddy and an upcoming college experience that is likely to include and M.R.S. degree.  They get along – or at least as ‘get along’ as you can by looking darkly at one another and zooming around on his bike.  This, of course, does not sit well with her boyfriend, an obnoxious snob named Randy (Adam Baldwin).  The union between these two kids from opposite ends of the tracks leads to all of the usual reckless youth activities: breaking into the high school, destroying stuff, going skinny dipping and, of course, making love with all of the appropriate lighting and music.

This is the set-up, and in fact, qualifies the whole movie.  Once the tropes are in place, the movie narrows down any potential character traits in order to make the movie exactly what it needs to be an nothing else.  Quinn and Hannah’s dialogue is trimmed down to only the necessities, so that instead of human interaction we get big, overriding pronouncements.  They are photographed in a way that looks cinematic and makes their presence seem grander than it really is – all the better to mask the fact that they are hardly people at all.

I like teen movies that loosen the reigns on the characters, where they can talk and think and be individuals, movies like American Graffiti or The Last Picture Show or the little-seen Valley Girl, movies that are thoughtful to the teen experience.  Here, everyone is in a little pod and they stay in their tropes and never deviate from the formula.  What a snore.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Drama