Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Film #58: Foolin' Around
One of the ultimate "Saturday Afternoon" movies for me is what looked to me to be a waste of time at first glance--and this was when I was 15 or so! I know. Foolin' Around looks terrible. But I was quite smitten with HBO back in 1981 or so, and would watch anything they showed. And I'm glad because I love Foolin' Around. It's a dumb li'l movie following Texas architechture student Gary Busey as he arrives at a Minnesota school for his studies. Volunteering for a science experiment that goes nutso, our hero meets rich girl science student Annette O' Toole. He falls for her and she for him, but she's engaged to be married to ultra-blonde asshole John Calvin. What's more, her father is architect Eddie Albert, and her mother is the shrewish Cloris Leachman. The mother loves the blonde asshole, the father hates him. (Leachman, it should be said here, is having an affair with the butler, well-played by Tony Randall.) So Foolin' Around here turns into a hybrid of The Graduate, where it's up to Busey to disrupt the inevitable don't-do-it wedding scene.
I know it sounds like I hate this movie. I would count it in the "guilty pleasures" category. But I watched it numerous times, even once in my 20s, and I still loved it, so I don't know why I should feel so guilty. I always like Gary Busey's aw-shucks style, and I think the very pretty Annette O'Toole really takes a shine to it as well, making the love story quite believeable (and that's a feat). I like Eddie Albert in a role that would have you thinking he was going to be the bad guy, but the director, Richard T. Heffron, had enough sense to cast Albert against type (he'd been playing villains in movies all throughout the 1970s). Albert's chemistry with Busey is tops as well--they have a terrific scene together on the top of an in-progress building, where Albert puts an engagement ring on the end of a steel girder to test Busey's committment to his daughter. (I need to mention that the movie features two very catchy songs by Seals and Crofts--strangely, just like another Annette O'Toole movie reviewed here recently, One on One).
It's just a warm-hearted trifle, Foolin' Around. That's all it is. But I LIKE warm-hearted trifles. So sue me. This is definitely one of my put-it-on-DVD wishes. To see Busey in his prime again, playing his only real romantic lead, and to see the young Annette O'Toole cavorting with him would somehow--don't ask me how--be ecstacy to me. (By the way, the Busey illustration is by Brooklyn's own "Caricature King" Dan Springer; filmicability has linked to his amazing visual blog everybody's gotta be in a gang. Check it out!