Monday, February 9, 2009

The Pom Pom Girls (Joseph Ruben, 1976)

Bold, brash, and full of other peoples sticky goo, the characters that inhabit the lackadaisical world of The Pom Pom Girls (a.k.a. Lâche-moi les baskets and Las chicas del Pom Pom) are social misfits of the highest order. Whether stealing a fire truck in broad daylight or brawling openly during the singing of "America the Beautiful," these young rapscallions have no regard for the rules and regulations put in place to keep them in a constant state of passivity. Urinating out the window in the middle of quadratic equations, casually pulling knives on one another, and smearing each other with cafeteria food in a blase manner, it would take me forever to list the amount of mischievous acts Johnie, Sally, Jesse, Laurie, Roxanne, Judy, Sue Ann, and, to some agree, Duane, commit in this superb example of how to properly portray teenagers in their natural habitat. Vandalism and acts of inconsequential criminality were the primary activities of my youth, and this film by Joseph Ruben (The Sister-in-Law and The Stepfather) captures that foolhardy spirit perfectly. As with real life, the plot of this randy endeavour meanders aimlessly in no particular direction, with no particular point, it just exists. Weaving its way through the first few weeks at a California high school, the story is about nothing. On the surface, anyway. However, if you were to put forth the effort and peel back the many layers, you'll discover a rich cornucopia of shapes and colours just waiting to be looked at by eyes with a taste for the avant-garde.

Unlike the felonious nimbus of my teenage existence, the characters that populate this particular time period possess souped-up mobile sex wagons (also known in some circles as "vans").

These "vans" helped the young people of the day procure partners for sexual congress and enabled them to fornicate in a dry and moderately sanitary environment without risking embarrassing afflictions such as "pebble butt" or the dreaded "grass stain crotch."

Sure, we had "vans" when I was young and stuff, but they were mostly used for hauling inanimate objects like, carpet samples, speakers, and defective dildos. Anyway, these mobile sex wagons were fundamental to the genital betterment of many citizens at the time.

The fact that I failed to see a single pom pom in The Pom Pom Girls until at least the one hour mark did not bother me one bit. The easy-going nature of the film 'til that point was so dreamy and relaxed, that I didn't seem to care that I hadn't seen a pom pom. Credit has to go to the film's semi-attractive cast. I mean, how they were able to make me forget about pom poms was a mini-miracle. The film's anti-education, anti-athletic, anti-everything stance also did a fine job at keeping my thoughts elsewhere.

Lead by the terrific Robert Carradine (Revenge of the Nerds), who plays the cocksure Johnnie, the film's ensemble is deeply talented across the board: Bill Adler (Van Nuys Blvd.) was great as usual as Duane, Johnnie's hotheaded rival; Lisa Reeves (The San Pedro Bums) was supremely foxy as Sally (Johnnie's forthright love interest); Michael Mullins displayed an appealing form of masculinity as Jesse, a football-playing van owner, and a smooth and creamy Jennifer Ashley (Phantom of the Paradise) frolicked like someone who frolicked professionally.

Others who caught my eye were the exquisitely structured Susan Player (Malibu Beach) as a flirty pom-pom shaker, Diane Lee Hart (Revenge of the Cheerleaders) as a cheerleader with a really nice bottom (while the majority of "the pom pom girls" had boney behinds, Diane's had a lot of oomph to it), and Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith (Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural) as a skinny blonde chick, who, unfortunately, was more of a spectator than a participant.

The lovely Sondra Lowell rocks as the adorably bespectacled Ms. Pritchitt, Rosedale High's embattled geometry teacher trying to impart her knowledge of quadratic equations while wearing a pleated skirt. Proving that teaching teenagers is extremely hard work, Sondra (credited here as Sandra) plays the nervous educator with a sympathetic zeal. Maybe it's because I'm not twelve anymore, but I wanted to slap the brats who dared to disrupt Ms. Pritchitt's class.

No doubt inspired by her therapist's advice to be more assertive with her students, Ms. Pritchitt sexily slinks out from behind her no-nonsense desk and confronts the class in a more direct manner.

Everyone I mentioned, with the exception of Sondra's Ms. Pritchitt (damn teachers and their obsession with clothing), appears naked in some form or another during an impromptu changing sequence (the guys even show a little skin in the shower, some show upper-crack, some show full-crack). The shameless and gratuitous nature of this sudden barrage of nudity helped alleviate the non-nakedness of the film's first third. Which up until then had only been supplied by the spunky Susan Player in a couple of van-centric encounters.

Nevertheless, this bit of exposed naughty flesh was strictly for the benefit of the perverts in the audience. While, the rest of us "normal people" enjoyed the film on a more cerebral level. In other words, appreciating it for its intelligence and not just its lewdness. A brilliant film that is almost ruined by unnecessary nudity, The Pom Pom Girls is intellectual cinema at its finest

video uploaded by Coolestmovies


  1. Yum-Yum, that was yet another edifying review. You do wonders making these intellectually difficult films more accessible for the rest of us rabble. So impressed am I by your efforts that I'm going to use my last spare Premio Dardos on you. You can poach the stamp from my own blog or wherever, but here's the spiel:

    The Dardos Award is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.

    The Rules are: 1) Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog. 2) Pass the award to another five blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award.

    Congratulations, and use this power wisely.

  2. Edifying: "enlightening or uplifting so as to encourage intellectual or moral improvement"


    I don't know if I can choose just five, but I'll see what I can do. Anyway, again, thanks for the award.

  3. I've always loved that poster. I've never seen this film though. You really make me wanna see it. Great write-up on it. I wish I had a sex wagon when I was in high school.

  4. Hey, Keith. Thanks for dropping by. I love Sugar & Spice.

  5. To paraphrase my friend Jake when he's drunk/acting like he's 10 years old:

    "I want to stick my wee wee in their hoo hoos."

    Anyhow, haven't seen the movie, but the girls all look great.

    You've seen "The Cheerleaders" right?

  6. Haven't seen The Cheerleaders yet, or Revenge of the Cheerleaders, for that matter. David Hasselhoff apparently appears in the latter as a character named Boner. (Tee-hee)

  7. The Cheerleaders is a lot better then Revenge of the Cheerleaders IMHO.

    You need to see The Cheerleaders. Great stuff.

  8. I have seen The Swinging Cheerleaders, if that is the Jack Hill movie. Rather disappointing.

    Defective dildos in a van. Is that due to quantity or size? :-)

    Word verification: nukinge
    Not sure what it might mean, but I can imagine Jack Black saying it.

  9. No more religious spam?

    Yes, we teachers like to keep our clothes on. And I think I've worn my fair share of pleated skirts. And I wear glasses. Luckily, many of my classes are in rooms without windows, so I can't say I've ever had a student pee out a window.

    "almost ruined by unnecessary nudity"? Really? I'm reminded of my mother's reaction to the Julianne Moore/Ralph Fiennes film The End of the Affair:
    Me: "So whadya think?"
    Her: [snippy] "There was too much sex!"

  10. Cliff: The Cheerleaders is better than Revenge of the Cheerleaders? Duly noted.

    Darius: The Swinging Cheerleaders was disappointing? Hmmm, I have heard that film is a tad on the crappy side... even by 1970s cheerleading movie standards.

    From my experience, defective dildos are typically misshapen due to overcooking.

    Karim: Religious spam? Is that what that was.

    Except for the irregular urination, I'm sure you could relate to some of Ms. Pritchitt's frustration in The Pom Pom Girls.

    I can't imagine being in a classroom without windows. I mean, where am I supposed to vacantly stare?

    When I initially saw the phrase "unnecessary nudity" and Julianne Moore's name I figured you were gonna mention her infamous underpants-free scene in Short Cuts.

  11. The yellow van featured in this film is a 71-73 ford econoline .

    I own a green one from 74 and I don't carry around inanimate objects in it
    on occassion my gig equipment, but let me put it this way, keeping the 70's vannin spirit very alive.