Joysticks (1983) Movie Review (Part 1).

It’s time for part 2 of the Joysticks series. Part 1 of the review. This review went so long that it is going to be divided up into multiple posts. It’s over the top and some would say I’m giving the movie more respect than it deserves. But the point of this series is to find the forgotten, the cult, the absurd and shed a long lost light on them.

This movie came out in 1983 as a way to capitalize on two trends: video game arcades, and teen/young adult sex comedies like Porky’s. The movie was filmed over 13 days with all scenes inside and outside of the arcade taking place in a converted warehouse. There are some issues with editing, plot, and logic. I will be looking for answers for some of these problems. Overall, this is a ridiculous piece of cult “trash” cinema that I am now in love with. It should have a larger cult following and it’s a shame this wasn’t a stronger staple of video rentals and/or late night shows like USA’s Up All Night.

In order to discuss the movie in future posts the first step is to go over the plot of the film. And it’s a doozy. If you would like to watch the movie in all of its uncensored glory it is available with an Amazon Prime Video account and if you have a Roku, type the movie into the search feature and some of those random apps you never heard of also have the flick.

The movie is about the new and very successful video arcade in town. All of the teens and youth spend their free time there. Every group, every type, it’s all about the joy of playing. However, local businessman Joseph Rutter is upset his daughter Patsy is hanging out there. He vows to shut down the arcade. Arcade owner Jefferson Bailey teams up with his best friend McDorfus and new employee Eugene to save the arcade from Rutter through nearly 90 minute of ridiculous set ups.

The movie begins with Eugene (Leif Green) driving to his first day at a new job. Of course the job turns out to be the arcade, but that hasn’t been revealed on screen yet. Eugene looks exactly as you expect. High pitched voice, curly messy hair, thick glasses, awkward movements, unsure of every action. He’s a perfect mark for a scam.

Enter two attractive girls driving a car next to Eugene. The two girls flirt with Eugene, and convince him he’s the most attractive man on Earth and they need to have him right there in the middle of a top down car on a city street. Breasts are bared to seal the deal. We are maybe three minutes into the movie. The two girls, Lola (Kym Malin) and Alva (Kim G. Michel) need to steal some goof’s pants as a sorority dare. Eugene is the perfect mark.

Eugene dives out of his car and into the girls’ vehicle. He climbs into the backseat and plays Eeny, meeny, miny, moe to decide which girl he will be with first. With his eyes covered. While poking their breasts with each eeny or meeny. Because logically, when he closed his eyes they moved their breasts around like a game of double D card Monty and are no longer in the same space they were in before he closed his eyes. Eugene stands up in the back of the car (top down, remember) and says “Ladies, let me introduce you to… Simba.” I swear to everything this actually happens. This is also long before the Lion King so I don’t know where the name came from. At this time a police car drives by and just gives the group a disappointed look, similar to the looks certain readers are giving this post. I can hear them now, “I cant believe you wasted your time on this.” I can’t believe it either but as a piece of turn off your brain and laugh at something stupid, it doesn’t get much better.

The police officer provides the distraction for the girls to dump Eugene out of the car and drive off with his pants. Eugene dives back into his own car and drives away embarrassed that he has no pants. Mind you, he is sitting in his car now so no one would be able to see that he is not wearing pants. Mind you also, he was just standing up in a car in the middle of the street and about to unleash Simba, yet had no worries or embarrassment about that. However, long boxer shorts in public – long enough to be considered regular casual shorts – is the source of great shame for him. I’ve seen much worse clothing than Eugene’s boxer shorts being work in public as regular shorts. Maybe it was a different time in 1983. People dressed up more. Wore something classy while standing up in a car about to be arrested for public exposure.

Speaking of exposure, one of the stories that has come out about the filming (all two weeks) of this movie is that this entire scene was filmed on an actual public street with zero permits or permission. I love the idea of guerrilla film making. Just get in there, roll footage, and get out before anyone knows what you’re doing. But the risk of some jail time or more likely a massive fine seems less and less worth it in my old age.

We are not even ten minutes into the movie and I’ve already gone on for over 800 words.

Stay tuned for more on Joysticks and believe me I understand if you want to come back at the end of the series. But for those of you who love ridiculous movies, there’s a lot coming up.

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