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Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979)

| August 24, 1979

Okay, so here’s a true confession.

While I was watching Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, by brain kept resisting it.  Something in the higher echelons of my better sense of taste kept telling me that this was not a movie that I should not enjoy.  And yet, I couldn’t resist its energy.  It’s dumb, stupid idiocy, a movie made without a brain in its head, and yet it knows exactly what it wants to be – dumb, stupid idiocy.  I’ve seen movies with multi-million-dollar budgets that were just as idiotic but none of those movies had the good taste to admit it.

Taking a page from the rebellious teen movies of the 50s, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School attempts to update those throw-away craptaculars of the past by updating it with the sounds of The Ramones.  Pulling into a very bizarre music video fantasy world, the film exposes a moment when rebellion, rock and romance are all that matter.

The film’s hero is Riff Randell, rock ‘n’ roller (P.J. Soles), a pure rebel whose break-every-rule trajectory is challenged by squares-ville new principal Miss Evelyn Togar (Mary Woronov), who is half-principal and half-mad scientist.  Naturally, Riff has met her arch nemesis.

How crazy is Togar?  How about a scene in which she uses a white mouse to test the destructive effects of the Ramones?  Placing the mouse in a glass box, she then turns up the volume – which is marked by decibels of the loudness of the bands – with Donny & Marie and Pat Boone at the bottom, and The Who and The Ramones at the top – until the poor rodent explodes.  That’s funny.

The match between Riff and Togar comes down to Riff’s desire to get tickets to the Ramones concert so that she can introduce the band to some songs that she has written, and Togar’s various machinations to keep that from happening.  Added to that are a lot – a LOT – of stupid jokes, musical performances and enough energy for three movies.  As I say, I didn’t want to like this movie as much as I did.  It’s corny, goofy, silly and when its over you’re sort of embarrassed to admit that you liked it.  But, I smiled, I laughed and I – darn it – I had a good time.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1979) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized