Today: June 12, 2024

Stay Cool

The angst-ridden teenager movie has been and will always remain one of the most popular movie genres.

The angst-ridden
teenager movie has been and will always remain one of the most popular movie
The era responsible
for this popularity is of course, the 80s, an era that churned out these high
school movies by the truckload, with movies like Some Kind of Wonderful, The
Breakfast Club,
Ferris Bueller’s Day
and Say Anything. These movies have developed such notoriety
that they now stand triumphant in their cult movie status. But is this recognised genre something
that can be revisited today? Stay Cool attempts to do just that, by
taking the high school 80s movie and merging it with the 21st

Mark Polish plays
Henry McCarthy, a 30-something author who returns to his hometown as an alumnus
to write a motivational commencement speech to be delivered on graduation day
at his former high school. Henry
is known for his book, ‘How Lionel Got Me Laid,’ (Lionel Richie of course!) an account of his adolescent years when
he attended high school and the story is told through Henry’s voiceover as he
narrates his novel. Upon coming
home and reflecting on his novel, Henry recalls the dreams and desires of his
youth, particularly his unrequited adoration for his high school crush, Scarlet
Smith (Winona Ryder).

Stay Cool simultaneously mocks and pays homage to the 80s
brat pack movie. Upon his return
Henry finds that many of his old classmates are stuck in a time warp, still
living and working in their hometown.
Some of The Breakfast Club token stereotypes of the Jock, the Brain, the
Criminal, the Princess and the Kook are present and correct, amongst others: Henry’s crush, the popular, pretty girl,
is now the local pharmacist, the now slim ‘fat boy’ is the local policeman and
the ‘Neanderthal jock’ is the high school coach. There is also the addition of actors known for this genre
such as Winona Ryder (Heathers) and Jon Cryer (Pretty in Pink). Disappointingly, Ryder doesn’t bring
much vigour to her character, but then Scarlet as a character is lacklustre
anyway. It is amusing however,
that Scarlet has changed for the better by almost breaking out of her
stereotypical image. As Henry’s
protective best friend, Sean Astin
summons a few laughs, in the same way he does as his character, Doug, in 50 First Dates, but Josh Holloway (Lost) as Henry’s drunken tattooist friend is absurd and does not
work. One can only assume when he
agreed to this role he was feeling like he wanted to find out if he was funny –
he’s not. A saving grace is that Chevy Chase plays Principal Marshall,
fresh from his recent comeback as Pierce Hawthorne in the fantastic television
series, Community. Chase is his usual comedic self and he
delivers quite a few laughs, although you are left wanting more from him. Only one question remains in relation
to Chase’s character – why does he spend the entirety of the film with a
plaster on the tip of his nose? It
is a mystery and if the reason was to add to the comedy value then it simply
wasn’t required with the legend that is Chevy Chase.

Stay Cool brings the 80s brat pack movie in to the world of
today by throwing in some comedy satire.
When Henry arrives at his high school he discovers that it has been
demolished and replaced and is now ultra-modern – in architecture and in
operation. And at a high school
that screens its pupils for weapons and sounds ‘crisis’ alarms every week, the
principal advises Henry about his speech, ‘Profanity is out. I wouldn’t use the words shit or
penis.’ The film also merges with
the modern high school comedy by bringing in Hilary Duff as Shasta, a sexy senior who flirts outrageously with
Henry and invites him to the prom.

For a movie that tells us at the beginning that ‘Misery, thy
name is high school,’ Stay Cool does end on a high and happy note. It does try to bring back the fun and
frolics of the 80s high school movie, but overall it is incredibly
underwhelming. If you want 80s
comedy thrills then reach for a John Hughes classic, otherwise stick with more
interesting ‘school reunion’ films like Grosse
Point Blank

Misha Wallace - Social Media Editor

From the age of 4, Misha Wallace became transfixed by movies like Halloween and The Birds from behind the couch, unbeknownst to her family. This has developed in to an obsession with fantasy and horror films (and a considerable number of cheesy 80s and 90s flicks – but she will not be judged). If she was a character in a film she'd be the girl at the end of a horror movie, doused in blood but grinning victorious. Email: or find her any time of the day or night on FilmJuice social media.

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