Welcome back to part 2 reviewing the 1983 video game comedy, Joysticks. Yesterday we got about 10 minutes into the movie so let’s see how far today takes us.
Eugene (Leif Green) has arrived at the parking lot of the video arcade. He takes his time sneaking into the building, because he is still without pants. Eugene continues to have zero consistency with his embarrassment. He stood up in the car without pants, was in fear after, fearful in the parking lot, and now walks through the packed arcade pants-less. Not without purpose though, he has to introduce himself to his new boss – Jefferson Bailey (Scott McGinnis). Jeff is young, looks fresh out of college, and convinced his grandfather to take one of his old warehouses and convert it into a video game arcade six months earlier. He doesn’t play any of the games, just runs the place. But there is some dark secret hinted at underneath. Our sorority friends, Lola and Alva are there as video game groupies. Hanging out, hanging on Jeff like he’s a rockstar. His biggest fan though is Patsy. Patsy (Corinne Bohrer) drops the thickest valley girl accent that is simultaneously adorable and annoying.
Corinne Bohrer may be better known by children of the 80’s as Bobcat Golthwait’s love interest in Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol. She looks innocent but also desirable. A perfect girl next door actress. She follows Jefferson like a puppy dog, and immediately befriends Eugene who is about to make his first mistake as an employee.
Every negative image of someone who has lost all connection with the real world and decides to focus on video games instead suddenly appears on screen. McDorfus (Jim Greenleaf) is overweight, unshaven, and pouring that unhealthy sweat. The kind that is closer to gravy than actual perspiration. Food and drink are scattered everywhere. The smell of clothes worn for days and showers avoided for the same amount of days comes through the screen. He’s an unblinking video game wizard. There has to be a twist.
And there is! Eugene repeatedly asks McDorfus to leave but he’s so engrossed in the game this falls on deaf ears. Eugene turns off the machine causing McDorfus to awaken and channel that focus into rage. He is held back by his best friend, Jefferson. Turns out McDorfus was the senior class president and a good looking alpha male before video games took hold of him like an opioid. Now he hangs out with his best friend, “testing” the games all day for free. Not a bad job.
Eugene and McDorfus make up while working the food stand within the arcade. Because this is a 1980’s sex comedy as well, one of the hot dogs from the food stand flies through the air and lands in a woman’s overblown cleavage. Then Eugene, being a gentleman and not wanting to touch a lady in such a manner without permission, takes a pair of tongs and attempts to retrieve the hot dog. It is one of the dumbest, most over the top, forced scenes I’ve ever seen in such a movie. It is also where the bar is substantially lowered. At this moment I knew this is what the movie is going to be. Either accept it or turn it off. Continue watching the movie as the dumb thing it is or move on with your life. I am only 15-20 minutes into this 90 minute film but I had to see where it went next. I’m still not entirely sure who the leads are. There is no conflict set up yet. But it is also becoming obvious that a plot needs to find its way onto screen and fast.
I soldier on.
Then, as if I summoned them, the punks show up.
King Vidiot, video game expert, shows up with his four punk girlfriends/groupies/hangers on/whatever they’re supposed to be. Vidiot tells his minions to play games and they spread out to the four corners of the arcade making their own video game music. It’s a bizarre scene but I’m a little embarrassed to say I laughed. Picture the chiptune music that the Pac-Man ghosts make in your head. That is what all four girls start mimicking as they maneuver around the arcade. It’s a little cute and silly and appears harmless. Then the four punk girls start surrounding other patrons with the music, as if they’re destroying a video game enemy. They swarm on Patsy. The innocent small girl is overwhelmed by these rough and tumble punks. Will anyone save her? Jeff? McDorfus? Eugene? The sorority girls?
No. In this moment, Patsy’s father shows up. Joseph Rutter (Joe Don Baker) is a local successful businessman and he doesn’t like new businesses with technology he doesn’t understand showing up in his town. That might take money away from him! Even worse is seeing his innocent daughter becoming corrupted by the game players and these punks! Daddy Rutter drags her out of there kicking and screaming. He proclaims the whole venue a den of debauchery. He is sickened by every part of it.
Where an intelligent arcade manager might take the opportunity to show the fun of a racing game or Space Invaders or anything really, Jefferson sits back and lets McDorfus talk for him. From his ass. The movie now goes full blown cartoon as McDorfus unleashes the most ridiculous gas possibly ever on camera. His diet of the arcade snack bar has not done his physique or metabolism any wonders and in this moment I wonder how my 5 year old wrote an R rated comedy 35 years ago. I cannot express how absurd this is, but I better think of a way to, because it’s not the only time it takes place in the movie.
It’s the most gross out cartoon without something smart mixed in. I know you’re thinking of some disgusting cartoon but even whichever one you’re thinking of still has bits of social commentary, or wit, or anything more than just hey stuffy rich old man take this with you!
Joseph Rutter has been embarrassed. His daughter has been corrupted. The new business is flourishing. And finally, we have our conflict.