Friday, December 31, 2010

The Outsiders

           Left to Right: Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Nameless Guy, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise
If there's one thing to be said for Francis Ford Coppola after his great streak of movies in 1970s it's that he still had a good eye for young acting talent. Even in the Godfather 3 when his infamous Nepotism led him to pick his own daughter for a role and destroyed the movie he still had Andy Garcia when he was relatively young playing an effective role. He also jumpstarted the careers of Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, and Martin Sheen previously. This is the movie of all jumpstart movies, with a variety of young kids who would eventually become stars, except for the main character.

I read the book in the 8th Grade and watched the movie around the same time, it was a fun read and relatively cheesy, the infamous "Stay Gold Ponyboy!" line oft being a thing yelled in random school hallways for humor. Not too bad of a book for a teen focused writer. The basic plot is there's 2 groups of teenagers, the proletariat Greasers and the bourgeousie Soc (pronounced Sosh somehow) in constant conflict. Johnny (Karate Kid) and Ponyboy (Nameless Guy) eventually get into a fight after hanging out with Diane Lane after her boyfriend pisses her off, Ponyboy almost drowns so Johnny stabs a kid to save him and then they run away. Dallas (Matt Dillon) helps them out and tells them where they can hide out for a while. Unfortunately they burn that down on accident and have to save kids to become heroes because they were wandering around an abandoned church for no apparent reason (actually there is a reason in the book but not in the movie and I sure as hell don't remember it). This sets the stage for the final act, a big brawl between the Socs and Greasers as well as a certain young soul dying and offering the last words Stay Gold Ponyboy!

Perhaps Stay Gold meant "Have a terrible career while the rest of us go off and become successful," 1 year later Ralph Macchio would star in the Karate Kid, which is really fucking boring and somehow immensely popular. 3 years later Tom Cruise would star in Top Gun and become the biggest star in the world. Swayze was already something of a star but his dominance of the 80s would continue. Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, and Emilio Estevez wound up having successful careers as well. But not Ponyboy, he stayed Gold, pure of hollywood corruption and Nepotism.

The movie is pretty functional and often unintentionally hilarious. Somehow they packed the book into 90 minutes fairly successfully so the movie moves along rapidly while still having most of the plot points. I suppose it is a lot harder to follow than the book but it's pretty damn straightforward so I think it works regardless. It's far from a great film but I enjoyed watching it again and it is very surreal seeing all those stars as younger kids.

Final Grade: 7/10

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