Friday, September 5, 2008

Teen Witch (Dorian Walker, 1989)

A steamy rooftop mating ritual–one that looks like it was ripped straight from the pages of a diary centered around a pair of red shoes–is the deceptively sophisticated opening scene of Teen Witch, another in the long line of super-terrific films that attempt to gnaw at the all-encompassing stew that is girl-based low self-esteem. The saxophone-flavoured, red leather skirt festival of the film's opening is just a sham perpetrated by a woolgathering teenager. You see, in reality, she's a sophomore named Louise Miller; a not-so-special gal who dreams of being popular and straddling the toned pelvis of one Brad Powell (starting quarterback, since the sixth grade). However, things start to change for her when she discovers she's a witch. (An older witch compares her face to that of revered cultural icon, Punky Brewster.) And thus the stage is set for one of the most electrifying trips into the psyche of someone who equates coolness with wearing a tutu in public.

Boasting a throbbing soundtrack that skillfully fills in the spots where the actors aren't talking, a truckload of spontaneous white rap (which was quite commonplace in the late 1980s), and an out of left-field musical number about boys; a ditty that perfectly encapsulates the emotional state of your average heterosexual vagina owner while in a locker room setting, Teen Witch explores adolescent awkwardness from the perspective of a girl better than any other film I've seen about teenage witches who obtain magic powers on their sixteenth birthday.

Giving a penetrating and nuanced performance (one that will surely inspire future generations), Robyn Lively at times looks like she'd rather sail the ocean than make a big decision. While other times she looked like she was ready to agitate, educate and organize. It's this complexity that sets Robyn apart from the rest of the teen witch crowd. I mean, you don't know whether she wants to bestow onto you a mustachioed Argentinian man with presumed hairy testicles, or cause you to break a leg while walking backwards in a bodice. It's that varied.

It also helped that she looked mega-cute while she was changing out of a frumpy skirt/baggy sweater combo and into a tutu, lavender leggings, and shades. Actually, I thought the montage set to the sounds of "Popular Girl" by Cindy Valentine (who, by the way, looked like Stacey Q just after she'd stolen one of Taylor Dayne's bejewelled jean jackets) was where Robyn came into her own as an actress. (I could watch her confidently walk around in ill-fitting outfits for hours.)

The best scene that didn't revolve around the changing of clothes, or the turning of bratty siblings into yappy dogs, for that matter, was Polly and Rhet's rap off. The former is Louise's best friend (played by Amanda Ingber - who I remember fondly as one of Carla Tortelli's kids on Cheers) and the latter is just a guy who raps a lot (he's played by Noah Blake). Anyway, the dialogue prior to the rap off ("Look at how funky he is!") and the rap itself ("I'm hot... and you're not... but if you want to get with me I'll give you a shot, TOP THAT!") is cinema at its finest.

Now some will say that this scene is the epitome of cringe-worthy, but those who cringe at their sincere wordplay and b-boy mannerisms obviously have an aversion to things that are awesome.

video uploaded by glows

1 comment:

  1. I always get a kick whenever I watch the "Top That!" scene. Teen Witch is classic!