The Lost Boys: Tepid Sensations
If you are between the ages of 15 and 25 and look like you are sexually functioning, then it is a guarantee that at some point someone 5 to 20 years your senior will try to show you the 1987 movie The Lost Boys. If you are between the ages of 25 and 35, perhaps you have already watched this movie with a "promising" younger person during the course of a tedious campaign of seduction.

As the older individual in this mutually unsatisfactory relationship, perhaps you imagine that are like David, the leader of the vampires in The Lost Boys: unwholesome, yet alluring. Like a 300-year old vampire with a prospect, you imagine that you are astounding someone new with an ordinary part of your reality, which you yourself find boring only because you are so corrupt.

You might say to that tempting teenager that you are trying to let into your life: "You think that you are so fashionable; so young. You think that you will be young forever. Yet, The Lost Boys, is already the perfect expression of beauty and youth that cannot be surpassed. It is from the 1980's, a sacrosanct time in American history that, like innocence itself, can never be experienced again."

Then, you will gloss over the contents of this bad movie with the statement that The Lost Boys is "a triumph of style."

Yet, in uttering that tired line, you will be contributing to the swift departure of beauty and style from our world. True, "emphasizing style" means distancing oneself from the traditional components of narrative in favor of expressing greater emotional truths, such as with the performance of the song "Absolute Destiny Apocalypse" in every episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena.

However, nothing is more pernicious to true style than the notion that repeating and glorifying cliches constitutes "triumph."

Revolutionary Girl Utena is a triumph of style. GOTHIC is a triumph of style. The Lost Boys is a two-hour commercial for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with anti-drug overtones.

Ask anyone about the plot of The Lost Boys, and witness their failure to remember. They will only babble, "Vampires... the 80's... a triumph of style." You will wonder, "What is wrong with people? How can a non-memorable movie be made about such a vital subject?"

Here is how. The movie starts with two brothers and a divorced mom who is nice moving to a beach town in California. You will wait patiently for the characters to start differentiating themselves. You will wait for their individuality to bud in the face of the film's generic 80's-movie opening conceit. Here is the extent to which two main characters individuate: we find out that the older brother has a motorcycle. We find that he is interested in females, sexually. We also find out that the younger brother likes comic books, and dogs.

The mom is perhaps the best part of this movie, because you can fantasize about what your life would have been like if she were your mom, a tolerant ex-hippie who would always be indulgent and nice.

"Well, OK," you will think. "Sometimes movie characters have to be ciphers. It is hard to show individuality when you are caught up in a truly fantastic plot." So, you wait for the dramatic developments that will overtake the brothers as they try to adjust to new lives.

Drama enters the characters' lives when the older brother meets the plot devices of a female love interest and an antagonist. The antagonist is the oily, yet commanding, leader of a gang of bad kids who are all vampires, and who all have beautiful, luxurious long hair.

Unfortunately, the vampires' lines consist of little other than just repeating the older brother's name in a jeering tone. Like the contemporaneous Mazes and Monsters, this movie derives much from the morality and aesthetic of the 1980's "Drug War." The characterization of the vampires in The Lost Boys owes much to the peer pressure-wielding villains from the educational films of that era.

When the older brother becomes a vampire, the younger brother has to deal with the problem. The younger brother is the only one equipped to deal with the problem, due to the redemptive power of comic books. His purpose is to broaden the age range of the movie's target demographic.

This movie is no "triumph of style." It lumps in vampirism alongside PCP, gangs, and divorce, in the cosmology of superficially-addressed 1980's social evils. It is an unfortunate marriage of the teen and children's film genres, crass yet bland. It is no kind of triumph, at all. 1.5 stars.


Posted by xerxes on Sun, 18 May 2008 20:29:47 -0400 -- permanent link

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