Saturday, September 23, 2017

#2,425. Joysticks (1983)

Directed By: Greydon Clark

Starring: Joe Don Baker, Leif Green, Jim Greenleaf

Tag line: "More fun than games"

Trivia: The opening scene with Eugene was shot without permits in less than an hour

Directed by Greydon Clark, Joysticks is yet another ‘80s teen sex comedy, this time combining the then-current phenomenon of video arcades with the usual doses of toilet humor and topless beauties. Yet despite its built-in nostalgia factor (I frequented a number of arcades in the ‘80s, some of which looked exactly like the one in this movie), Joysticks proved to be a tedious motion picture; a limp comedy with a trite storyline and nudity so gratuitous it makes Porky’s seem subtle by comparison.

Jefferson "Jeff" Bailey (Scott McGinnis) is the manager of Bailey’s, a video arcade owned by his (mostly-absent) grandfather. With the help of his friend / co-worker, the slovenly Dorfus (Jim Greenleaf), Jeff has managed to turn the arcade into a popular teen hangout. It’s so popular, in fact, that he’s had to hire a third employee, the nerdy Eugene (Leif Green), to work the snack counter.

But the good times may be coming to an end thanks to local businessman Joseph Rutter (Joe Don Baker), who is none too happy that his teenage daughter Patsy (Corrine Bohrer) spends all her free time in Bailey’s Arcade. Along with his two dim-witted nephews, Arnie (John Diehl) and Max (John Voldstad), Rutter tries his damnedest to dig up some dirt on Jeff Bailey, and even forms a tentative partnership with punk rocker / videogame aficionado King Vidiot (Jon Gries, aka Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite) in the hopes he will help him shut the arcade down once and for all.

With screenshots from a number of ‘80s-era games, including Pole Position, Centipede, Defender, and, of course, Pac-Man (I even spotted a Berserk machine in the background at one point), Joysticks did bring back some memories. But the majority of these screenshots occur during the opening credits, and had I known then what I know now, I would have stopped watching once they were over!

Despite being a so-called “comedy”, Joysticks is not the least bit funny; I didn’t laugh once during the entire movie (I did chuckle, however, when Joe Don Baker and Jon Gries were discussing how they were going to put Jeff Bailey out of business). As if to make up for their feeble attempts at humor, director Clark and his team toss plenty of nudity into the mix (even when the girls are fully clothed the camera never wanders far from their chests or backsides). As for the characters, they’re stereotypical and dull (though Jonathan Gries’s over-the-top portrayal of King Vidiot has its moments, as does Corrine Bohrer’s Valley Girl interpretation of Patsy), and the ending sequence is as predictable as they come.

As with any subgenre, there are good ‘80s teen sex comedies (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Porky’s, The Last American Virgin) and bad ‘80s teen sex comedies (Private Resort, Screwballs). Without a doubt, Joysticks falls into the latter, and even those who harbor fond memories of hanging out in arcades will want to steer clear of this debacle.


Bob Johns said...

Ok I feel like I have seen this one back in the VHS days and feel the need to watch it again so where did you find a copy? Is it on DVD?

DVD Infatuation said...

Bob: Thanks for the comment, as well as your previous posts (my apologies for not responding to them in a more timely manner)

JOYSTICKS is available on both DVD and Blu-Ray in Region 1 (North America). As for the movies I cover on the blog, all are DVDs or Blu-Rays that I already own, so I don't know if any of them are streaming online or not.

Thanks again for the continued support, and if you track down a copy of JOYSTICKS, I hope you enjoy it more than I did!