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I loved PLAYING FOR KEEPS when it was released in '86; I went to see it
three times, and bought the soundtrack at least twice on cassette (I
kept wearing it out). What can I say? I was 12. It was, at the very
least, my introduction to Pete Townshend and, eventually, The Who. Last
year I found the CD for a dollar in a cutout bin, and I'm shamelessly
wallowing in it right now. (I'm in full-tilt cheesy '80s soundtrack
mode - I've already run through BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, and
I've got HIDING OUT ready to go.)
Speaking of $1 finds, I recently came across a beat-up VHS tape of PLAYING FOR KEEPS, and since a DVD release seems unlikely ever to happen, is there any other way to revisit something I enjoyed in seventh grade?
After watching the tape, I wondered how I could have found such an inane, simpleminded movie so appealing. The best part is right at the top - the opening credits, with Townshend's spirited "Life to Life" starting things off. Or, at least the beginning was joyful in another time; the credits are interspersed with images of New York City, including a tinted, fractured photo-negative of the World Trade Center. The movie now, at least to me, starts off on a melancholy note, but the montage is fairly brief, and unrelated to the main story.
Most of the movie is set in some generic, podunk New England burg, where it's Conservative Establishment vs. Idealistic Youth as our heroes plan to change a dilapidated hotel into a rock and roll manor (the reason that a large hotel was first built in such a remote location with no visible amenities in its vicinity is never given). Thinking this premise is somehow simultaneously predictable, stock, unlikely and implausible is letting the screenwriters off easy. I guess it goes without saying that this hotel turns out to be supremely gaudy and not the least bit cool; the production reeks of early MTV - it's replete with garish neon, acid wash denim, musical montages, and "Thriller"-era choreography, including break dancing.
The credits are really the only part of PLAYING FOR KEEPS that doesn't make me gag now. The movie itself is unrelentingly shoddy and drowning in clichés, occasionally surfacing for inept acting and astonishingly lamebrained dialogue. (And the obligatory invocation of the movie's title couldn't have possibly been delivered with more agonizing ham-handedness.) No wonder that the cast, with one notable exception, continues to toil in obscurity.
That exception is, of course, Marisa Tomei. PLAYING FOR KEEPS will be invaluable for the future Friar's Club Roast in her honor. I doubt even her biggest fans are aware of this movie, for which she must be grateful. PLAYING FOR KEEPS also the answer to a fine trivia question; how many people would know that this is the only directorial effort by Bob Weinstein? Miramax should package the DVD with director's commentary. I'd love to hear what co-writers & directors Bob and Harvey Weinstein have to say about this skeleton, and surely most of the cast could take some time off from their oh-so-busy schedules to record a separate cast track.
Now that I've come clean about PLAYING FOR KEEPS, I should go ahead and disown other cinematic indiscretions from my youth. I better start rumaging through the bargain bins for used VHS tapes of RAD and MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY to expunge any lingering fondness for those equally banal movies.
The very first film from Miramax studios, it is directed by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the studio's two founding executives, and one can easily see the ambitions of young directors in the film. It is rather stylishly made, experimenting with some different camera angels here and there, and it is accompanied by quite a fitting soundtrack of music that its directors were probably into. The film also features Marisa Tomei in her first big role, and although she is not able to conjure up the charm that won her an Oscar seven years later, having her in the film is still somewhat of a delight. The acting in general is actually sub-par, and the plot is awfully silly overall, but it is good-natured fun and often amusing to watch, plus it is interesting to see where Harvey Weinstein and Marisa Tomei began.
OK folks, if you LOVE 80's cheese, then this is the movie for you. I love this movie primarily because my dad played Cromwell(the villain)in it, but beyond that, I just really enjoyed the silliness of it all and the fact that the film transports me to a different time in my life. I was 14 years old when the movie was released, so I was really into all of that early MTV cheesiness. The soundtrack was great and was truly one of the best things about the film (other than Dad, of course), but there were also scenes in the film that were very clever and funny. I think that the direction could have been a lot better (sorry Miramax), as the young actors had the tendency to "chew the scenery" at times and needed their overacting to be reigned in a bit. Harold Gould's performance was flawless, however. He's a true professional. It's very hard to make sense out of a silly script, but he managed to develop a wonderful character. The bottom line is that the film is just good fun. Forget about the improbable plot, the bad acting, and the terrible direction and just let the movie transport you to a different time in your life. I've seen it hundreds of times over the years with friends who have wanted to see some films my dad has done. Before I let anyone watch it, I always give the disclaimer that it is a super-cheesy 80's film and believe it or not, my dad is a Shakesperean-trained actor (he played Horatio in Richard Burton's Hamlet, among other roles), but everyone always ends up loving the movie because it's truly a piece of 80's nostalgia. My dad will be the fist person to tell you that it's a horrible movie, so he always chuckles when someone tells him how much they loved it. In my opinion, if you want to relive 1986, then this movie is a must-see. :)
Well, I grew up and still live near in the town where this was filmed.
I saw part of this film on TV first. It was pretty unnerving to flip
the channel and see familiar streets and buildings being broadcast;
like being in the Twilight Zone.
The only reason I purchased this movie was because of where it was filmed. The town has undergone some changes since the movie was made, so it's a nice nostalgic scrapbook of sorts. The movie itself is cheesy, corny, and rather poorly done like most teen oriented films of the 80's, though it had a LOT of potential... I must say, I'm quite surprised to see it out on DVD - wish I had known that before going to eBay and buying it on VHS!
If you like cheese, small-town people made to look like dumb hicks, and teen power, then this is a must see. Otherwise, if you're not from the area it was filmed, it's almost a waste of time.
Almost...it *is* pretty funny as long as you're not taking the movie seriously and considering it a drama like the little sticker on the box says....
Yes, it was shot in 1983 in Honesdale PA. The name of the hotel when it was open in real life was Bethany Colony. After it had been closed for awhile it was used by the studio to make this movie. The Honesdale High School senior class were in the movie in the graduation scene. Unfortunately, the studio left the hotel in worse condition than when they found it. I've never seen it but would love to so I am trying to find a copy. Sounds like a DVD version I will never see but luckily I still have a VHS player! I was only 11 when it was filmed but remember the movie being filmed when I lived in Honesdale. Never knew the stars in it or that it was Miramax's first film. I'll have to let the rest of my friends know that.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Come on its great 80s fun. Teens dressing up as boy-scouts to earn money, convincing friends to help with a dream. The smartest little sister on the screen I just cant help but Love the game they play. Try it if your in the mood for something silly and fun. Hey,Its a Weinstein (think Scream, Emma, Addicted to Love and Kate and Leopold) film one of the firsts. You get to see young actors trying to make their way (Marisa Tomei is in it way before she got famous or won an award.) and some older ones (Harold Gould) helping them out. Now I certainly hope that is enough of a reason to try this film. Hey if nothing else, you get watch Eighties Hair and listen to some good eighties music.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm surprised to see so many negative reactions to this film. As a
regular junkie for obscure 80s comedies, I kind of liked it. I mean,
the underdog story was quite far-fetched and there were several
elements to make it laughable (the music video-like sequences scattered
through the more motivational sequences in the film), but it is it
really deserving of such poor ratings? Actually, this is the kind of
film that an obscure 80s comedy/drama fan might only appreciate (it is
probably destined for cult status anyways, even if the following for
such is extremely small) because you have to expect (and forgive) a lot
of campy cheesiness. Afterall, that's the natural byproduct of the
This is the story of an optimistic, and idealistic, teen from NYC. A recent high school grad, he's determined not to be stuck in some dead end junk job that he would regret for the rest of his life. Among the three friends who are primarily the main protagonists of this film (along with Harold Gould as Rockerfella and Marisa Tomei as one of the girlfriends), he is the dreamer with plenty of ideas for greatness. Opportunity comes a-knockin' this time in the form of a deed to an upstate hotel inherited from an Aunt, along with eight thousand dollars worth of debt. Despite urgings from his mother not to bother with it, he and his friends plan to fix it up and turn it into a youth hotel, The Hotel Majestic.
This, of course, is much to the chagrin of the small town's high profile investor, who, in cahoots with another sleazy businessman, intend to get their hands on that hotel any way they can. And when the teens refuse to sell it to him, he turns the whole town of middle-age and senior ogres against them. Being the underdog genre, you have to know that these kids (and their friend, Rockerfella) aren't going down without a fight. Like I said, you have to expect quite a bit of cheesiness. But the film has it moments of sly city humor (I particularly like Jimmy Biao's character, Stienberg) and other elements that may make it worth watching. I actually started watching it with the impression that it was going to be terrible (I had bought it at a video store where I usually have zip luck with the selections). Certainly, fans of obscure 80s films ought to give it a try.
When I first looked at the LaserDisc jacket, I thought this movie was going
to be a bomb, but was instead pleasantly surprised.
Better than below average 80's Teen Adventures (like Kevin Bacon's often
cheezy Quicksilver '86), this fun movie included a
very young Marisa Tomei and super cute Mary B. Ward. Worth a
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
i cant believe all the negative reviews about this movie this movie is the bomb i first discovered this movie back in 1995 on the encore channel and since then i been a fan how can you not like it the acting is kind of silly but its great i love the songs and it teaches you how to succeed not fell and Marisa tomei is not the main character Daniel jordano is the star Marisa is just a supporting actor and i heard that this is the first very first film from the Weinstein's good job so if people want to see where Marisa tomei started its right here its a sad movie to me anyways i wonder how the other casts are doing the soundtrack is awesome i like the part when the inspector come by and gets hit by the latter i don't care how many bad remarks this movie gets its my favorite.
This movie is very similar to the 1980 film Xanadu. A lot of IMDB users may not like that film either, but at least Xanadu had the beautiful Olivia Newton-John and a great soundtrack. This film has about 10 minutes of the cute Marisa Tomei and 1 decent soundtrack song (Say the Word by Arcadia). I wanted this movie to end so badly, yet it was like watching a car accident. I just couldn`t turn away because it was so bad!! This movie is no `Xanadu`.
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