Thursday, April 10, 2014

Foolin' Around (1980)

Directed by Richard T. Heffron. I could have sworn I saw this movie as a kid at a drive-in as the second feature with "The Buddy Holly Story" but the Buddy Holly biopic was released two years earlier so it doesn't seem possible. Strange. I must have seen it as the second feature with something else, but also saw "The Buddy Holly Story" two years earlier at the drive-in.

Gary Busey is one of those guys I think people expected quite a bit and this movie captures that it was not to be.

Though we should have known. Despite Oscars and accolade, "The Buddy Holly Story" was not a quality movie. Hollywood's interest in biopics was refreshed and that particular movie benefited from good timing and public interest. But "The Buddy Holly Story" has all of the hallmarks of the worst biopics: composite characters, fictional incidents and constant inaccuracies.

Busey, years away from trauma-induced cranial dementia is charismatic, though it's possible that big roles didn't follow from his 1978 Buddy Holly turn because the arrogant bully the public knows today had already emerged behind Hollywood's closed doors.

And so, two years after "The Buddy Holly Story" we have "Foolin' Around," in which Wes (Busey) arrives from Oklahoma to attend a university in Minnesota, falls in love with psychology student student Susan (Annette O'Toole), a wealthy debutante engaged to snobbish social climber Whitley (John Calvin). Fortunately Susan's grandfather (Eddie Albert) respects Wes's grit and hates Whitley because he's that unrealistically creepy slimeball that we have no reason to believe that Susan should see anything in. But that's the way it always is in this movie, which you've seen the likes of 1,000 times.

But usually this kind of movie is full of talentless nobodies, so this one is a little different. Look for what's gotta be one of William H. Macy's earliest roles, playing a crooked bookseller. In addition to the unnecessary and dumb references to "Rocky" and "The Graduate" there is trite uselessness.

Recommended for late night.

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