Friday, September 5, 2008

Girls Just Want to Have Fun (Alan Metter, 1985)

The first thing I noticed as I looked toward the viewing screen was the neon glow emanating from the ankle socks and tank-tops of those assembled on the stage of Dance T.V. (a television show about dancing). My eyes, soaked in a rich tapestry of vicious pinks and transsexual blues, watched as the taut bodies encased in these brightly coloured fabrics thrashed about in a frenzied attempt to justify their corporeal existence. Now if that isn't a great first impression, I don't know what is. Actually, I think the first thing I saw was the celestial contour of Sarah Jessica Parker's unfairly maligned profile, but that's not important. What is important is that I got to bask in the unparalleled righteousness that is Girls Just Want to Have Fun (a.k.a. Lipstick & Ice Cream), a film that symbolizes everything that was electro-positive about the 1980s. The garish clothing, the prerequisite Kristi Somers (Tomboy) supporting role, a physically attractive yet ill-natured antagonist (Holly Gagnier), the synth-driven pop music, the Molly Kathleen Ringwald in The Breakfast Club-style dancing, the girlish giggling...there all here.

Oh, and the montages were so emotionally charged, that I was almost tempted to put on my pointiest pair of winklepickers and smugly admire the buckles as they shimmered in the glow of my boyfriend's scrotal piercing.

Brushing aside the bland earth tones of the punk scene and the soul crushing denim look of the rock crowd, this film celebrates the sheer wonderfulness that is new wave. I mean, the number of fingerless gloves I spotted in this film made my head spin.

Gloves without fingers: They're great for swinging on playground equipment or dialing telephones.

Seriously, I loved the way Girls Just Want to Have Fun portrayed new wave fashion as something to be proud of. (I dislike it when people liken the style to the equivalent of drinking five parsecs of unrefrigerated clown vomit.)

This pride is best represented in the variegated form of Lynne Stone, the gumptious gal pal of Janey (the lead girl who desires fun). Played with hilarious aplomb by Helen Hunt (who has never been funnier), Lynne is the pinnacle of new wave adventurousness, as her outfits ranged from kooky (a grasshopper-adorned hat with a torn yellow sweater) to the bizarre (I could have sworn I saw her wearing blue dinosaurs in her hair).

Over on the other side of the girl/fun spectrum, Sarah Jessica Parker's Janey is saddled with a plaid skirt and a blue blazer for lion's share of the film. However, when she does get to let her Lauper flag fly, she does so with a splashy elegance. And dancing exuberantly to the bubbly strains of Q-Feel's "Dancing in Heaven (Orbital Be-Bop)" in rose-coloured leggings, well, that automatically lands you in my good book (as it is an excellent song).

Rounding out the girly triad, Shannen Doherty (Heathers) plays Maggie, the little sister of Janey's dance partner, Jeff (a hunky Lee Montgomery - girls swoon at the mere sight of his hairy arms). Anyway, I thought Shannen was adorable. Which is a word not often associated with Miss Doherty's work. But here, she's cute and sane.

On the surface, it may seem like your average girl meets boy, girl mopes while wearing purple panties, girl and boy enter a dance contest type of movie. Nevertheless, it's got so many levels to it, that lost count. Oh, sure, the film has a number of inconsistencies, like when Lynne says the greatest inventions of the twentieth century are Tab and the Walkman, and ten minutes later she's drinking a Pepsi. But judged solely on the basis of style and execution, Girls Just Want to Have Fun is a winner. (Orbital Be-Bop)



  1. Surprised nobody commented on this. Lee Montgomery is a fox! Every time I hear Q-Feel's "Dancing in Heaven" I think of this movie.

  2. watching it right now... and it's a lot of fun.