Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hardbodies (1984)

Directed by Mark Griffiths
Starring Teal Roberts, Grant Cramer, Courtney Gains
Rated R

"He's got a case of the blue balls. You know, love nuts."

One of the all-time classic 80's T&A comedies, Hardbodies is a breezy, beach-bound romp that makes up for it's wafer-thin plot with enough bared boobs to keep a 14 year old boy busy for a week. The story, such as it is, revolves around several groups of sex-mad individuals in the heady summer of '83. Front and center is blonde surfer-dude Scotty Palmer (Grant Cramer), a fast-talking charmer currently facing eviction from his slovenly surfside hovel. He's got a gorgeous but stiff girlfriend named Kristi (Teal Roberts), and a best pal named Rag (Courtney Gains), a flame-haired doofus who suffers from low self-esteem. There's also a Von Zipper-esque gang of creeps and slobs who drive a van with a "Dirtbag" vanity plate and who own a dog who is trained to snatch girls' bikini tops, and a trio of middle-aged hornballs - clueless cad Hunter (Gary Wood), aging cowboy Ashby (Sorrell Pickard), and chubby funster Rounder (Michael Rapport) - who rent a luxurious beach-side condo in a vain effort to score some hot teenage tail.

Said hornballs soon realize their plans are not rock-solid when they repeatedly strike out with the local beach bunnies. Scotty, on the other hand, is finding his new neighbors to be a delight. He asks if they'd like their cars detailed, assuring the naïve old bastards that chicks love it. They have no idea what 'detailing' even means, which allows Scotty to cruise around in their convertible, pretending to be the orphan son of two wealthy-but-sadly-cannibalized anthropologists. This proves quite effective with the local bikini girls.

When he arrives back at gramps' fuck-palace to collect his 'detailing' dough, the fellas ask him what his secret is. He tells them about how he 'dialogues' the babes, feeding them enough bullshit to keep them interested. Naturally, the old creeps want a dose of Scotty's mojo, so they offer to let him stay at the house and earn a stipend if he trains them in the art of scoring chicks. Since he's about to get evicted anyway, he takes them up on the deal. And so, the beaver hunt is afoot.

The first day of training involves Rag dressed in drag - a stupendously disturbing image - so that the guys can test out their lines. When this proves to be a futile effort, Scotty takes them down to the beach to try it with real live girls. It works fine for Scotty, but the guys get kicked and scoffed at, so he takes them to the mall to buy ridiculous clothes and then makes them stalk women all day, foisting flyers for their upcoming house party into their hands and hoping some of them show up.

Amazingly, they do end up with a houseful of 'hardbodies', but there's a problem - the band Rag hired for the night had an emergency Bar Mitzvah gig in Encino. He delivers this news in an alarming sleeveless fake tux tee/bathing trunks combo, which does nothing to lessen the blow. The always-thinking Scotty saves the night by hitting up the wretched all-girl garage band (erm...future arena-fillers Vixen) from down the way. The night rolls and the trio of trolls get to work. Hunter spills his drink on one girl, and then ambushes her in the bathroom when she tries to clean it. Ashby plies a ditzy blonde aerobics instructor with drugs. Rounder convinces a girl that he's friends with talent scouts at several modeling agencies, and invites her upstairs for an impromptu photo shoot. Things quickly get out of hand, and before he knows it, there's half a dozen half naked girls piled into the room.

Of course, this is exactly when Kristi shows up to rain on Scotty's fleshy parade. The next morning, Scotty wakes up alone and the men all wake up with middle-aged concerns and complaints. They are clearly outclassed by their young fillies - Ash almost dies trying to jog on the beach with the aerobics queen - but as in all sex comedies, the idiots have yet to learn their lessons in life and love, and are therefore subject to more humiliation.

Scotty goes to visit Rocco (Antony Ponzini, RIP), the gangster-y owner of a local gym where all the beach bunnies work out. He was interested in the party band, and invited Scotty over to discuss them. They come up with some cockamamie plan to have the band play while chicks work out. For whatever reason, Rocco thinks this will make them both rich. Scotty's taken over as the band's new manager, and changed their name from Diaper Rash to...that's right, Hardbodies.

So, that is the dubious next move. Scotty asks Kristi and her galpal Kimberly (Cindy Silver, Gimme an F) to come. Before they get ready to go, they spend some time topless in front of a full-length mirror pondering why guys like boobs. And then they imagine what Rag would look like with double D breasts. Apparently Rag is the go-to whipping boy in this fractured fairy tale.

Everybody gets dressed up and heads over to some jivey nightclub where bands play behind flexing muscle-heads and bouncing aerobics enthusiasts. Afterwards, the gang piles into a limo and everybody spends the night on the beach. And everybody gets laid. Everybody. It's like Caligula with bikinis.

So, where's the conflict? Well, one dude didn't get laid. Hunter spent the night trying to talk perpetual cocktease Candy (Crystal Shaw) out of her panties. When he gets too grabby, Scotty rushes in to save her, so a pissed-off Hunter tells him their deal is off. And then he storms off to tell Kristi her boyfriend is snoodling with the tease-queen. When she stomps over to investigate, he's mid-consolation hug, so he does look sorta guilty.

While Scotty tries to woo Kristi back, the Hardbodies play a gig on the beach, but the slobs from the dirtbag van show up blasting 45 Grave on their boombox and do their best to disrupt the proceedings. Scotty tries to chase them off but ends up hopping on a motorized surfboard (!) and hiding on a buoy with a bunch of seals for the night. Meanwhile, Kristi's getting wooed by Hunter. Everything's gone bananas. Can Scotty win back his true love and show these crusty old fuckers the error of their womanizing ways?

Hey man, it was the high 80's. And if the 80's were about anything, they were about the power of love, heavy metal, and hare-brained schemes.

Ok, so clearly, the story is slight. Still, Hardbodies is one the best examples of the 80's teen sex com, a wall-to-wall jiggle fest with cheap gags and more nudity than any adolescent boy could ever ask for. Pretty boy Cramer was born for this role, and it's no surprise that he spent the next ten years on a soap opera. You've got to give it to him, the fucker oozes charm. Teal Roberts was one of the 80's great beauties, and it's a tragedy that she made so few films. Her last role was as an extra in a '94 episode of sexy cop show Silk Stalkings.

The real hero of this cast, however, is Courtney Gains. Immediately recognizable for his role as the murderous Malachi in Children of the Corn (also 1984), Gains is as goofy here as he was terrifying in Corn. He's completely shameless in Hardbodies, dressing in outfits so bad they actually hurt your eyes and belly-flopping for yucks at every turn. There's something to be learned here about his fearless performance. I don't know what that is, but there's clearly some truth in it. The king of the screwballs is still royalty, right?

Although the jokes are lame and the old fools often drag down the simple beach party kicks, Hardbodies symbolizes a long-gone era of neon-colored hedonism and reckless optimism. Sure, the 80s were loud, dumb, and ugly, but they were also pretty awesome. Hardbodies is irrevocable proof of that.

Mark Griffiths followed this up with the inevitable sequel in 1986, before settling into a still-going career alternately shooting softcore and kidfilm. It's a living, man.

Hardbodies was recently released on DVD by Anchor Bay.

Clip: Hardbodies trailer

PS: I had the same dumb lightning bolt t-shirt this chick's wearing.

PPS: Elusive 80's B-goddess Emily Longstreth (Gimme an F, American Drive-In) can be glimpsed during the credits sequence skating the boulevard. Alas, she does not make another appearance.

- Ken McIntyre

1 comment:

  1. I never knew that Diaper Rash eventually turned into Vixen. Wasn't the first song they played when Scotty walked in called Computer Madness, and the lyrics were something like "Computer Madness, yeah, yeah", and Scotty was snapping his fingers like it was the best song ever written? I think that and Rags with the boobs are all I remember from this movie.

    Oh, and in the next-to-last paragraph of the write-up of the movie plot, should it be "Kristi's getting wooed by Hunter", not "wood by Hunter"?


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