“The Last American Virgin” (1982)
Funny title notwithstanding, this Trojan Horse of a movie purports to be a sexy comedy, but ends up as a warning about how Alpha Males will always have the edge over Nice Guys. It starts out like “American Pie,” with high school boys on a quest for ever-elusive girlie action. But soon nerdy Gary (Lawrence Monoson) decides to court pregnant Karen (Diane Franklin) who was just dumped by a pretty boy jock. At the risk of spoiling the (depressing) ending, let’s just say there are now entire blogs devoted to teaching Nice Guys how not to end up like poor Gary.
“Heaven Help Us” (1985)
Long before the Catholic Church became mired in sex scandals, director Michael Dinner and writer Charles Purpura were showing the abusive side of clergy in this comic drama about 1960s Catholic School boys. Problem was, the few people that actually saw this in the theaters thought they were getting a teen comedy. Not quite. Future Brat Packer Andrew McCarthy stars as an orphaned new-kid-in-town fending off bully Kevin Dillon while acclimating to his new New York City home. Keep an eye out for a teenage Dr. McDreamy in a supporting role and an ear out for the great oldies soundtrack.
“Seven Minutes in Heaven” (1985)
Writer-director Linda Feferman gets great performances out of a very young Jennifer Connelly and Maddie Corman (later of “Beverly Hills 90210”) in this tender coming-of-age comic drama. With themes running the gamut from teen runaways to abusive parents and a somewhat maudlin tone, this one veers just shy of “After School Special” territory. But the sincere tone is what draws you in. Like “Pretty in Pink,” it found more success on cable than in theaters.
“Vision Quest” (1985)
If I had hottie Linda Fiorentino hanging around my house in her undies, I also might have made like Matthew Modine, who in this film goes on a mission to be a top high school wrestler to Get the Proverbial Girl. Seriously, director Harold Becker successfully melds clichés from both sports and teen flicks to come up with a believable mix of the “we’re number one!” and “boy gets girl” formulas. Madonna fans will no doubt get into the groove of young Madge in her first big screen role singing both “Crazy for You” and the little-heard non-LP rocker “Gambler.”
“Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home” (1987)
OK, so they pretty much stole the title concept from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” This comedy didn’t have “Ferris’” je ne sais quois (or a fraction of its success) but it had more heart. “Two and a Half Men” star Jon Cryer plays a senator’s son who is dumped off at boarding school and summoned back to Washington, D.C. only when his calculating folks need him to keep up appearances. Upon his return home, he connects with a family, but it’s not his own. Contrived but cute — and with some great footage of Washington at night.