Written by / 12/08/2013 / No comments / , , , ,

ACTION BRAT PACKED: THE HIDDEN CULT OF 'BLUE CITY'

Scott Wilson fights the good guys YEAR: 1986
It's simple, really: In most cases, a Cult Film takes itself more seriously than the audience... And... After many years... The Melodrama becomes what's known as Camp, described by Webster's as: 'Something so outrageously artificial, affected, inappropriate, or out-of-date as to be considered amusing'...

Well okay, fine: There's some of that going on in BLUE CITY, directed by THE BREAKFAST CLUB producer Michelle Manning, but not as much as you'd expect — this being one of the most maligned films from the 1980's, which is only partially true: it's nowhere near popular enough to be remembered as anything beyond the main two stars, Manning's former young actors and most importantly, Brat Packers Judd Nelson as the prodigal son of an adored mayor of BLUE CITY that has, since dad's death nine months earlier, morphed into a kind of roadhouse-rowdy, dockyard-gritty cesspool. Nelson's character is shocked and deeply saddened by the news, even though he probably returned home to sustain his rebellious ways. But death has turned this life-distracted slacker into a pointed Neo Noir anti-hero, aided by a gimpy boatsman and that fella's grown-hot little sis, played by none other than Ali Sheedy making this, in pop culture retrospect, the very worst of the Brat Pack filmography. And to the public... even die-hard 80's Kids... it's one of those films that got away...

The Blu Ray of Blue City by Olive Films
Early the next year, following BLUE CITY's anemic box office, it didn't sweep the Razzies by wins but it sure did with nominations, which is only really understandable for an actor who goes over-the-top so damn fast you'd think he was a raving mad thug instead of the businessman heavy in charge: Yet some things you have to wait for and, by the end, IN COLD BLOOD actor Scott Wilson's frantic Perry Kerch is revealed as being someone much less than he was supposed to be, and his hammy performance becomes more clear: No great actor like Wilson gets himself too deep in schlock without a reason, and he has a pretty good one here...

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, Judd Nelson is almost completely stripped from the energetic persona that gave THE BREAKFAST CLUB the epitome of a movie-stealing, tour de force performance. That same year, in a young Kevin Coster and future WATERWORLD director Kevin Reynolds' Texas road romp, FANDANGO, Nelson's an unapologetic nerd who perpetually argues, "I'm not a weenie!" These two polar opposite roles proved, from the start,  he was a versatile actor (though it took a while before one picture gained a following through video store rentals). And BLUE CITY proved that his stint as a bonafide action hero would be short-lived. He displayed no interesting traits to keep the viewer tightly locked in, or to genuinely chuckle at his devil-may-care one-liners. With a decent-enough action script co-written by producer Walter Hill, it's a neat 90-minute programmer despite the fact our hero has very little motivation to go around blowing up the bad guy's Cadillac and destroying his casino, other than fulfilling the basic, primal description: The Returning Son of a Slain Florida Mayor Seeks Revenge for his Father's Mysterious Death...

Judd Nelson makes like a gunslinger and blows
Which leads to a good number of gunfights and fistfights, as every bit of action is explained previously so there's always something to continue looking forward to. But Nelson's Billy Turner is an ambiguously misunderstood, conceited rebel who's more a punk than a flawed gutsy grownup hero. During the film we learn, mostly from dialogue spouted by Paul Winfield as an idyllic (and mysterious) Chief of Police, that dad would have to constantly get his son out of trouble: So Billy's rushed and heated fervor is all too much, too soon while his blind determination becomes confusing since he eventually leaves town after realizing his mission is useless: Which was beyond-obvious long beforehand...

But the tables turn, again, and for the last time, when boatyard buddy David Caruso's Joey Rayfold, who's frankly too dumb to live, violently buys the farm after aiding in the destruction of the casino. Following his arrest, he stupidly returns to the docks like it's just another day. Then again, for one of the most obvious Doomed Sidekicks, his reasoning does make sense... for the story: Caruso, who played small roles as usually meek, passive characters, like in FIRST BLOOD and AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN before becoming a tough guy on television, is this film's beloved shaggy dog...

BlueCityScore: ***1/2
Like when, after the antagonist's beloved pet gets killed, there's that 11th hour momentum to take care of business, once and for all, using the death as a springboard. But Caruso's more important for who he isn't: His little sis is our token ingenue and, surprisingly enough, Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson's chemistry is pretty weak. Having played two different types of scruffy rogues in THE BREAKFAST CLUB, they were an intentionally mismatched, engaged yuppie couple in the second most important vehicle in the Brat Canon, ST. ELMO'S FIRE. And it's got to be said: No matter how despised BLUE CITY is... in the opinion of this 1980's Kid, it beats the pants off the contrived, idiotic perfection of ELMO'S, the horribly overrated, class envy embarrassment of PRETTY IN PINK and even WEIRD SCIENCE, which, for some of us, only Bill Paxton's Chet stands the true test of time...

Ally Sheedy's usual dirty glare doesn't last long
BLUE CITY, with it's Ry Cooder score, light on his usual slide guitar, replaced mostly by synthesizers and 48 HRS style steel drums smoothly backs a nifty little yarn, loosely based on a novel written by one of the all-time classic Pulp authors, Ross Macdonald, and narrowed into a Neon Neo Noir by Walter Hill, under a tight and simple (if straight-to-video style) direction by Michelle Manning...

It's hard to not enjoy a great actor playing a reckless villain who, at this time and despite going overboard within the first five minutes of his introductory scene, would have never been cast in anything other than a b-movie that strived for A-list status...

An attempted springboard for Judd Nelson, who, despite being described by one critic as a "law-breaking Jughead to David Caruso's far more intriguing and fleshed-out Archie," unlike BREAKFAST CLUB, plays a rebel that's difficult to entirely root for. And who knows, maybe all critics didn't expect a passable time-filler to follow a teenage melodrama/comedy blockbuster. What seems to be the most panned thing about BLUE CITY, even over the movie itself, is the failure for its star to have gained anything from it.
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