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Class (1983)

Updated on August 2, 2010

Released back in 1983 early on in the careers of it's stars Rob Lowe and Andrew McCarthy "Class" is a movie which starts of as a teenage comedy, exploring college humour and sex but then turns things around as it develops a more dramatic storyline revolving around love and frienships. It just doesn't quite work as it ends up not sure whether it wants to be funny or serious. Along with a few other issues "Class" ends up a very average teen comedy/drama from the 80s.

Jonathan Ogner (Andrew McCarthy - Mannequin) has won himself a place at a top prep school but being a bit naive he soon ends up the butt of various jokes thanks to his room mate Skip (Rob Lowe - Youngblood). Despite the jokes Jonathan and Skip soon becomes best friends and learning that Jonathan has never had sex gives him some money so he can go to the city and find someone to lose his virginity to. What Skip doesn't expect though is that Jonathan would unwittingly end up not only losing his virginity but also falling for Ellen (Jacqueline Bisset), Skip's mum. And when it all comes out in the open their friendship comes to an abrupt halt.

Although "Class" is set in a classy prep school it's a small variation on the college theme and it doesn't take it long to start delivering your stereotypical college humour with sex jokes, teen pranks and so on. None of which is that original although the initial meeting between Jonathan and Skip ending with the both in womens underwear is one of the more memorable jokes. Strangely much of the comedy feels restrained as if they were keeping things on a tight leash so shilst we get a split second of nudity, smoking jokes none of it ends up being really funny, rather just light hearted and amusing.

Where things go wrong with "Class" is having delivered all this teenage humour it then manufactures a more serious storyline when Jonathan ends up in a sexual relationship with Skip's mum. It not only takes the movie off on a different route but it just doesn't work, much of which is down to Andrew McCarthy who in his first movie shows talent for humour but not for drama. It just feels stilted as if McCarthy was uncomfortable with a storyline which required him to deliver emotion. But what also doesn't help is the sexual liasons which Jonathan has with Ellen, such as the sex scene in the lift are played alomost for comedy value yet they're not really funny other than in a teenage fantasy sort of way.

Aside from this main storyline there are secondary storylines tagged on such as Jonathan trying to get into Harvard and that because the prep school is being investigated the students hurry to destroy their stashes of drugs. But these subplots are litterally just padding tagged on to fill out the moments where nothing much happens.

It has to be said that Andrew McCarthy is not alone when it comes to his performance because Rob Lowe equally struggles. Inbetween a lot of over acting and an accent which I am still trying to work out what it's meant to be Lowe's own movie inexperience is very clear to see. Like with McCarthy when it comes to the humour Lowe delivers quite well but the minute the storyline turns and demands more serious acting he just hasn't got the ability to be believable. And of course alongside McCarthy and Lowe is Jacqueline Bisset, the seductive older woman who teaches Jonathan a thing or two. It's again not the most believable performances which works well when it comes to all the seduction and the few sex scenes but fails to work when the storyline becomes dramatic.

Aside from the three main stars "Class" also features Cliff Robertson as Ellen's well off husband and in the back ground there are minor roles for other young stars such as Alan Ruck and John Cusack. But "Class" is very much Andrew McCarthy, Robe Lowe and Jacqueline Bisset's movie.

All in all "Class" is mildly entertaining and serves up a reasonable dose of 80s nostalgia. But between the often restrained humour and the trouble strewn storyline which can't make up it's mind as to whether it wants to be funny or serious it suffers and ends up feeling rather mediocre.


Title: Class
Year: 1983
Length: 98 mins
Certificate: 15
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director: Lewis John Carlino
Cast: Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Jacqueline Bisset, Cliff Robertson, John Cusack, Alan Ruck, Stuart Margolin


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