by Peter Nielsen
”The first time seems like the worst time, but it’s the one time you’ll never forget!”
Ladies and gentlemen, we haven’t done a romantic comedy in a while, have we? So I thought it was about time! Mischief isn’t your typical 80’s teen rom-com though, since it isn’t set in the 80’s. Nope, this one is set in Nelsonville, Ohio in 1956! Not that young people back then were much different from the ones in the 80’s. They liked good music, liked to have a great time and young boys were as obsessed with sex as they are today.
Jonathan is a shy young boy who’s a bit awkward around the opposite sex, but still yearns for the beautiful Marilyn McCauley, played by Kelly Preston (Secret Admirer, Eulogy). You know… Mrs. John Travolta? Jonathan is played by Doug McKeon from the TV mini-series Centennial for instance. He was also in On Golden Pond with Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda.
Well, Jonathan doesn’t have much luck with the ladies, at least not until Gene moves in next door. Gene is a motorcycle-driving rebel who’s been kicked out of school and has moved, with his dad, from the big city in order to stay out of trouble. The two strikes up an unlikely friendship and Gene bets Jonathan that he can get him laid within a month. With Marilyn!
When Gene lays eyes on Marilyn at the town fair, he realizes he’s got his work cut out for him. He starts teaching Jonathan the tricks of the trade, so to speak, and Jonathan is an eager student. There are some hilarious scenes with him as he tries to impress Marilyn.
Gene, on the other hand, is interested in Bunny, played by the gorgeous Catherine Mary Stewart (The Last Starfighter, Night of the Comet). She’s kind of going out with Kenny, the town asshole, so a bit of rivalry ensues. It ends with Gene and Kenny having a big fight at Jerry’s Malt Shop and having a white-line chicken race that ends kind of badly. All this eventually leads to Gene’s dad kicking him out of the house and Gene leaving town. But don’t worry! We all know he’s going to return sooner or later, right? Why? Because of Bunny, of course!
Gene is played by Chris Nash (The Wraith, Satisfaction) and his dad by Terry O’Quinn from The Stepfather and the TV-show Millennium for instance.
The first time I watched Mischief was together with my dad, so it kind of holds a special place in my heart because of that. We both enjoyed it very much too, both movie and the wonderful music in it. He grew up with this music and passed his love for it on to me. By now you probably know I’m fairly eclectic in my taste of music and movies and my dad was the same way, so I guess I know where I’ve gotten that from.
There are a lot of my favorite songs in Mischief and the list would be far too long if I were to mention them all, so I’ll just give you a few examples here. Some of the artists featured on the soundtrack are: The Cleftones, Buddy Holly, The Platters, Fats Domino and Elvis Presley. I wish I could list a couple more, but you’ll just have to watch the damn movie and listen!
Would you believe this film was trimmed down here in Sweden, when it was first released?Yeah, that’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the Swedish censors even put their sharp scissors to work on a harmless romantic comedy! Please don’t ask me why because I don’t understand it either! They actually cut 2 minutes and 19 seconds from it!! (Yeah, I checked!)
The first cut is in the love-making scene between Jonathan and Marilyn where they cut out the act itself. Yeah, go figure! It’s not like it’s explicit or anything like that! The second cut appears in the fight-scene at Jerry’s Malt Shop where Jonathan breaks his arm. The way it played out was that you saw a bit of the shuffling and fighting and at the end Jonathan is holding his arm saying it’s broken.
But you never see it happen and I remember dad turning to me wondering what the hell just happened. And this scene isn’t explicit either! It’s not like they deliberately breaks his arm… Jonathan is pushed over a counter and he breaks his arm in the fall!!! Yup, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… movie-censorship was pretty bad here during the 80’s and early 90’s.
Mischief is a great little movie which manages to capture the spirit of the time very well. The clothes, the settings, the music and the kids themselves… it just works, you know? And however unlikely their friendship might seem at first, Jonathan and Gene actually work very well together, which of course comes down to Chris Nash and Doug McKeon, and their acting abilities.
Doug McKeon, especially, stands out and nails his part perfectly. And let’s not forget the three beautiful ladies either. Yes, I said three and I’ve already mentioned Kelly Preston and Catherine Mary Stewart, but the third one is Jami Gertz (The Lost Boys, Sibling Rivalry) who plays Rosalie. She’s kind of like the ugly duckling who blooms through-out the course of the movie.
I’ve seen Mischief many times, but before watching it this time I hadn’t seen it for many years and had forgotten how much I actually love it! I know this is going to make me sound like a big sap, but this movie gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling and left me with a big silly grin on my face and that’s how it should be, right? Oh, and by the way? Jonathan sucks at basketball!
So, my friends… have you seen this movie? If you haven’t, I really recommend that you do! If you have seen it, what did you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!