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TEEN WOLF/TEEN WOLF TOO

 

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Oct. 13, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: The two ‘Teen Wolf’ movies, recently adapted for a TV series, were juvenile outings whose impact and influence is debatable, but here they are with Blu-ray upgrades by The Shout! Factory, so here are my reviews of those films, the first published in the Deseret News on Aug. 25, 1985, and the second on Nov. 24, 1987. (TRIVIA NOTE: The first film was made before the release of ‘Back to the Future’ made Michael J. Fox a star, and in the sequel Fox was replaced by Jason Bateman, who would also become a star, though his ascent would take a bit longer.)

TEEN WOLF: The best thing that could possibly happen to “Teen Wolf” is “Back to the Future.” Michael J. Fox’s stock has risen so rapidly and so high this summer that “Teen Wolf” is bound to benefit. And, happily, it’s not too bad.

“Teen Wolf” is a sort of “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” in comedy form, with Fox as the wolf (his name adds a nice irony), a young high schooler who suffers from hereditary lycanthropy.

The first third of the film has him wondering what the heck is happening to him, as his hands get hairy, his ears get pointy and his voice gets throaty — and especially when his eyes turn red.

The second third has to do with his leading the school basketball team to victory and letting his hairiness hang out, gaining a reputation with his alter-ego as “Teen Wolf,” which keeps him from being annoyingly “average.”

The final third is kind of a “Rocky Plays Basketball” twist to all of this, as Fox inevitably learns that being normal isn’t so bad after all.

If this sounds like a TV sitcom, there’s no question that the film plays that way – except for some PG-rated profanity and vulgarity (and not a lot at that), and one gratuitous, unnecessary sex scene with some brief partial nudity.

     

But given the enormous charm of Michael J. Fox, and a few nice comedic touches (including comic Jay Tarses as a goofy basketball coach), “Teen Wolf” fares pretty well, and should please the teenage audience it is obviously designed for. I also liked the wonderful relationship story between Fox and his father (James Hampton), which gets all too little screen time.

Otherwise, the storyline uses the werewolf gimmick to simply cover up the fact that this is pretty ordinary teenage romantic-comedy stuff. Fox loves from afar the blond bimbo whose boyfriend is a bully; Fox is loved by the girl who is his best friend but he can’t see her love for him; Fox has sex with the bimbo and learns the hard way that she doesn’t really love him back; Fox gets too cocky with his popular “Teen Wolf” persona and has to be taken down a peg; Fox learns that just being himself is the best thing he could possibly be. It’s all been done far too often before.

The makeup makes Fox look more like a Neanderthal than a wolf, and there is also the bizarre sound-effects laden musical soundtrack that hampers more than helps, but on the whole, “Teen Wolf” has enough positive points to make it a fair piece of fluff worth 90 minutes of your time.

Just don’t expect the gloss of “Back to the Future,” a far superior film.

     

TEEN WOLF TOO: “Teen Wolf Too” is 10 times worse than “Teen Wolf.” And “Teen Wolf” wasn’t anything to howl about.

Part of the problem is Jason Bateman replacing Michael J. Fox. There’s no comparison. Fox is charming, Bateman is smug.

Beyond that there’s little difference, except the obvious: Instead of high school, he’s in college; instead of basketball, the sport is boxing.

Bateman’s character is Todd Howard, cousin of Fox’s Scott Howard. Todd has never suffered from the family lycanthropy, though his uncle Harold (James Hampton again) warns him to watch for it.

Todd’s roommate is Stiles, the character that was Scott’s best friend in the first film, here played by another actor, Stuart Fratkin. Todd’s girlfriend is Nicki, played by Estee Chandler.

More familiar cast members include John Astin, as the nasty dean of the college that recruited Todd on a sports scholarship so he could win big as a wolf; Paul Sand, as the befuddled coach who can’t make a decision; and Kim Darby, as a sympathetic science teacher who encourages Todd’s desire to become a veterinarian (what else?).

But the plot is the same. Todd turns into a wolf, wins boxing matches when he’s at his most hairy, become Mr. Popularity and is, of course, quite obnoxious. He rejects his friends and his girl and has to learn the lesson that he must be himself.

Sound familiar, “Teen Wolf” fans? That’s right, it’s virtually the same plot. And the film ends with a rousing boxing match that shamefully steals from “Rocky.”

The main problem here, aside form being a very badly conceived and constructed film, is Jason Bateman. It’s hard to tell when he’s a nice guy and when he’s supposed to be obnoxious.

“Teen Wolf Too” is rated PG for violence, profanity and some implied sex.