Fast cars, dirt bikes, miniature golf and the unequaled beauty of Betsy Russell collide to create one of the most misunderstood masterworks of the twentieth century. On the surface, Tomboy is a trashy spectacle, one that appears to be preoccupied with hollow thrills, especially ones that involve booby-based buffoonery. However, if you take the time to examine the highly-developed subtext that permeates the film's witless screenplay, you'll notice that there is a superfluous amount of intelligence and vitality floating in-between the sentences uttered in this film. You see, the underlying feminist makeup of the plucky protagonist's puritanical posture probably didn't register in the halls of the National Organization for Women at the time of its release. But, believe it or not, there's a strong women's libber bent to Tommy, a headstrong, yet socially awkward grease monkey who finds herself thrust into the featherbrained world of dating and auto racing by her coquettish best friend, Seville (played by the gorgeous Kristi Somers). For one thing, Tommy has an aversion to pornography, and second, she doesn't like guys telling her what she can and cannot do. Nor does she like being pawed at by strange men at cocaine-fueled parties. (Tommy plants her right knee squarely into the crotch of one particularly grabby party-goer.) And I appreciated her integrity in that regard. She's not gonna let the fact she has a killer physique interfere with her chances of beating some smug jackass (Gerard "Superboy" Christopher) in a car race.
Now, Ben Zelig may have only one screenwriting credit to his name, but he has filled it with everything an abnormal human being could ask for in a ninety minute motion picture: a group shower scene (a playful Kristi Somers looks great washing off her eyeliner); a dirt bike chase, a basketball game (complete with interracial high-fiving); an extended getting-to-know-ya montage (which boasts a round of miniature golf and a trip down a water-slide)...
A leg warmer-assisted aerobics audition (a wonderful merging of heteroeroticism and homoeroticism); a titillating doughnut commercial audition scene; the aforementioned car race; and an energetic party sequence (where Kristi Somers does an acrobatic striptease).
Danna Garen is cutely funny as "Girl in Hall."
Yikes that's a lot of praise for Kristi Somers (not that she doesn't deserve it, she rocks in this movie).
Despite the fact that she sports a not-so flattering hairstyle, Betsy Russell reaffirms my belief that she is one of the most scrumptious people on the planet. She had already set my heart and other things afire with her work in Private School, but as the tomboyish Tommy, Betsy gets to play a complex character for a change.
Sure, it may be a bit of stretch for Betsy to inhabit the skin of a gruff mechanic (she's hot no matter what you do to her hair), but somehow she makes it work. Imbuing the feisty grease monkey with a shitload of moxie and just the right amount of sticktoitiveness.
On a more unsavoury note, the way Herb Freed's camera slowly pans up, revealing Betsy's pantyhose-covered legs in a leather skirt at the party was stunning example of artful perversion. Which pretty much sums up Tomboy: Perverted art at its finest.