This week for EXPLOITATION ALLEY, we’re going deep into the troubled teens genre, and into a film that I loved as a kid and continue to enjoy as an adult. Complete with shivs, juvenile halls and some pretty badass thugs, I’m talking about Rick Rosenthal’s 1983 youth gone wrong film BAD BOYS…and no, not the Will Smith movie.
BAD BOYS tells the story of Mick O’Brien (Sean Penn, MYSTIC RIVER, AT CLOSE RANGE) a young hoodlum who spends his time snatching purses, getting into fights and putting the mack on his girlfriend J.C. (Ally Sheedy, THE BREAKFAST CLUB). Hoping to step his game up, Mick comes up with the not so bright idea of ripping off his rival, another tough as nails thug named Paco ( played pretty ferociously by LABAMBA‘s Esai Morales), and Mick’s plan goes horribly wrong, ending with mulitple deaths, including his friend Carl ,and at the tail end of being chased by the cops, Mick accidentally hits and kills Paco’s little brother as well.
Things definitely don’t seem to be going well for Mick at this point, and are made even worse, when he is sentenced to a tough as hell juvenile facility due to him being underage. He’s instantly met by an assortment of characters, including Lofgren, the resident bully (played by a young Clancy Brown), and Horowitz, a young kid who befriends Mick and does his best throughout the film to help him get through his stay.
After being provoked and threatend by Lofgren and fellow dickhead “Tweety”, Mick decided to buy a few cans of soda, and when the bullies walk up to jump him, O’brien puts the cans in a pillowcase and proceeds to beat the living hell out of them, pretty much ending their reign in the facility, and making himself the new leader.
*on a side note, after seeing this scene as a kid, I attempted to put cans into a sock and fight my older brother and I wasn’t as lucky, I ended up getting my ass handed to me*
While Mick is enjoying his newfound leadership in the facility, back on the streets, Paco is exacting his revenge on everyone he feels is responsible for his brother’s death, including doing a drive-by on another gang, and eventually raping J.C. to get back at Mick.
J.C. points out Paco in a lineup that is probably one of the most ghetto lineups ever (it’s pretty much just a few thugs standing in the middle of the room, three feet away from her) and he’s sent away for the crime. After hearing of the rape, Mick escapes the facility (with the help of Horowitz, who gets caught during the escape and thrown into solitary), and heads back to the neighbor to make sure J.C. is ok. He’s eventually picked up by Ramon, a worker at the facility that senses hope in Mick, and is brought back to the lockup. Shortly after re-arriving there, Mick is shocked to find out that due to there not being any room in another jail, Paco has been transferred there, and thus begins a back and forth feud between the two. While Mick just wants to serve the rest of his time and start his life over, Paco is bent on revenge and it all escalates into a down and dirty brawl between the two at the end, leaving only one as the victor.
What sets BAD BOYS apart from every other exploitation prison-type film, is the fact that it’s written/directed and acted a few notches above the standard kind of movie like this. Penn, Morales and pretty much everyone else involved all bring their A-games to the film, and it never teeters into a joke or a parody of the themes that it deals with, such as the desire or hope to change one’s life after living one full of bad decisions. It’s also great to see how Rosenthal went from directing HALLOWEEN 2 to this film, it shows a great deal of versatility on his part, and after watching how great of a job that he did directing BAD BOYS, it makes you want to forgive the guy for the blasphemy that was HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION (WHY RICK WHYYYY????!!!).
All in all, it’s a very enjoyable film, full of some very well written scenes, and top notch performances from many people who would go on to be widely recognized for their future performances. Until next week, have a good one folks!