Directed By: Rod Daniel
Starring: Michael J. Fox, James Hampton, Susan Ursitti
Tag line: "He always wanted to be special... but he never expected this!"
Trivia: This film was followed by a cartoon spin-off in 1986
The story of a rather unusual teenager, 1985’s Teen Wolf proved to the world that Michael J. Fox, already a bankable star thanks to Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future (released earlier that year), was the real deal.
At first glance, Scott Howard (Fox) appears to be a normal teen. A mediocre player for his school’s basketball team (which just lost its opening game), he spends his afternoons working at the hardware store his father (James Hampton) owns, and his nights hanging out with best buddy Stiles (Jerry Levine). On the romantic front, Scott has a huge crush on classmate Pamela (Lorie Griffin), which prevents him from realizing that his lifelong friend Lisa “Boof” Marconi (Susan Ursitti) is head-over-heels in love with him. On top of all this, Scott is experiencing some dramatic physical changes, from a troublesome rash to unexpected hair growth (on his hands and chest). It isn’t until the next full moon, however, that he realizes the extent of his problem: Scott Howard is a werewolf! At first, he tries to hide his condition, but as he’ll soon discover, being a teen wolf has its advantages. In fact, it’s made him the most popular kid in school. The question remains, though: how long can Scott go on playing the wolf?
Teen Wolf has its share of cool scenes, like the night Scott first learns about his “condition” (which has a pretty clever twist at the end), and the basketball game where he inadvertently reveals his secret to the world, but the truth of the matter is that, without Michael J. Fox, this movie wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun. Whether playing an angst-ridden young man (as he does in the opening scenes) or hidden behind layers of make-up, Fox is always at the top of his game, infusing a most unusual character with both humor and heart, and doing so wonderfully.
Teen Wolf may have its problems (watching it again, I couldn’t help but wonder why the national press never descended on this small town. After all, it isn’t every day that a werewolf leads his high school basketball team to victory), but in Fox’s capable hands, what could have been a silly story about a teenage wolf becomes something a bit more substantial.