Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lucas (1986)

Endearing, if ultimately hollow coming-of-age story about an oddball botanically inclined outcast who falls for a new girl 2 years his senior. Corey Haim plays Lucas, an insect collecting 14 year old who meets 16 year old Maggie (Kerri Green) a few weeks before school resumes. They connect, and have a great time outside of the high school realm, which Lucas understands will end once classes start. And lo and behold, the distractions of high school strain the duo, with Lucas being picked on by jocks (such as Tom Hodges and Jeremy Piven) and Maggie getting picked up by one (Charlie Sheen) who happens to be Lucas's friend. The romantic tension between the cast during the first 2/3rds of the film is tangible and very realistic; most of the characters have set their sights on someone who is either unattainable, or unworthy of their affections. They set themselves up for heartbreak, willfully ignorant to the practicalities that render their feelings moot; Lucas develops a fixation on Romeo and Juliet, citing that the 2 main characters were 13 and already capable of forbidden love. The best scene in the film involves a long tracking shot showing all the principal characters of the film eyeballing their respective crushes, with only one tragic reciprocation. The story falters a little bit in the third act, when the emotional trials of the beginning are sacrificed for a rousing football game/slow-clap climax. But at that point, the characters feel organic enough that you want to see their stories through, and that is mostly due to the strength of the cast. Green, Sheen, Piven, Hodges, and especially the recently deceased Corey Haim (we miss you, pal) turn in very fleshed out performances, far more organic than other teen films of the era, save for John Hughes'. Winona Ryder also shines as Lucas' friend, who, despite being far prettier and cooler than anyone else in the movie (my Winona love knows no bounds), has her affections for him ignored.

Recommended for fans of quality, realistic (and slightly painful) '80s teen films or Corey Haim. This is one of the better examples of his talent, and, alongside License to Drive and The Lost Boys, a great testament to what he represented at the height of his talents and fame.

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