1985, Herb Freed

Based on the cover and tagline, Tomboy looks like the kind of movie your sister would have borrowed at the video store in the late 1980’s expecting a gentle romantic comedy in the vein of John Hughes and been sorely disappointed. Alternatively, a teenage boy whose disappointed sister happened to hire Tomboy might be pleasantly surprised by the lowbrow humour and mammaries on display. Tomboy is one of those movies that confuses me as to who it was aimed at. Most movies have audiences to go with whatever genre they are, for instance action movies are for people who dig violence, horror movies are for people who dig violence even more than the action guys, rape-revenge movies are for creeps, artsy romance movies are for people who want to seem clever on dates and musical comedies based around an all-ABBA soundtrack are for people who are pretty much the scum of the Earth. But what I’m saying is that there is something for everybody. And Tomboy feels like it aimed at a whole bunch of prospective audiences and missed them all.

On one hand, Tomboy is a sex comedy of sorts, with its displays of breasts and occasional moments of puerile comedy. On the other hand, Tomboy spends way too much time on all that romance junk and stuff to be the kind of movie you would go see with a bunch of the dudes for a chuckle over a root beer and a pizza as a double bill with Porky’s. It also spends way too little time on the romance to be a date movie and the nudity is far from plentiful enough to be a whack off movie for the whack off movie crowd. So who is Tomboy for? Well these days Tomboy, as most reviewers have stated or alluded to, is for the bad movie night people. But who was it for back in the days before ironic movie watching became a popular way to spend time with friends? Just another one of life’s great questions to give myself a headache as I ponder back and forth on it.

Betsy Russell: Star of Tomboy and some Saw movies

As for the movie itself, Tomboy stars Betsy Russell (who recently featured in five of the Saw sequels as Jill) as Tommy the titular Tomboy. Tommy works as a mechanic, enjoys hanging out with her awful dancer friend, and is apparently allergic to bras. The movie follows Tommy as she falls for car-racing playboy, Randy Starr. Her first meeting with Randy involves him and his arrogant rich guy friend showing up in her garage with two topless ladies in their car. I mean he doesn’t come off as a sleazebag at all. But proving first impressions can be wrong, he later woos her by inviting her to a house-party at his mansion, where she finds him in a room upstairs watching porn with his friends for some unexplained reason. See? Totally not a sleazebag. A playful boxing match ensues in Randy’s gym, where he punches Tommy in the face, knocking her to the floor and then they make love and are suddenly a couple with the montage scene to prove it.

Randy Starr: Dreamboat apparently

The rest of the movie involves some friction between Tommy and Randy’s peeps as a some kind of a car race thing is organised and well, who cares. All the funny stuff in Tomboy happens in the earlier stages of the film, such as Tommy’s best friend’s dreadful Flashdance inspired dance routine, a shower scene with a bad gay joke that results in a far more hilarious over-reaction shot of Tommy laughing, and the aforementioned best friend showing up at Randy’s party and stripping off in front of all the guests to music for no apparent reason.

Tommy’s gross friend strips for a bunch of clapping morons at a party

Tomboy is mind-boggling bad movie night fare from a director who went on to make such films (according to as Dead Punkz and Child 2 Man. I have not seen these movies, but based on their titles they are surely Oscar worthy. Also of note to those of you, who like myself clearly had nothing better to do in their youth than watch after school TV, the guy who played Randy Starr was none other than Gerard Christopher, star of Superboy (1989 – 1992). Mill Creek have released a surprisingly high quality print of Tomboy on DVD, available in their Too Cool for School Collection DVD set. I say surprisingly, because well, there are still movies of much higher quality, critical recognition and budget that remain unreleased on DVD or float around on shelves in cropped 4:3 prints, but somebody saw fit to release Tomboy, a movie nobody has seen or likes, in anamorphic widescreen. Just saying.