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The Beat (1988)

 -  Drama  -  3 June 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.2/10 from 143 users  
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A new kid moves into a tough neighborhood controlled by gangs, and tries to teach them poetry.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
David Jacobson ...
Rex Voorhas Ormine
Billy Kane
Kara Glover ...
Kate Kane
Stuart Alexander ...
Dirt - Larry
Paul Dillon ...
Lon Recchia
Danny Lambeaux
Tony Gillan ...
Lisa Blake Richards ...
Amy Kahn (as Lisa Richards)
Richard Eigen ...
Ian Murphy
Angie Zisser ...
Frank Ellsworth
Jeffrey Horowitz ...
Bart Waxman
Robert Gerringer ...
Dr. Morningstone


A new kid moves into a tough neighborhood controlled by gangs, and tries to teach them poetry.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They were victims of the street, until they caught... The Beat.




R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 June 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Conjurer  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Did You Know?


It's the Limit
Written by Harley Flanagan & Kevin Mayhew
Performed by Cro-Mags (as The Cro-Mags)
Courtesy of Rock Hotel/Profile Records
See more »

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User Reviews

silly film? yes. entertaining film you must see? DEFINITELY!
9 April 2003 | by (california) – See all my reviews

"... the beat is too strong ... we're deaf mutants now--like them", Rex Voorhas Ormine

I am surprised that this movie has been uniformly bashed. Let me be the first to actually discuss the virtues of "The Beat" and why YOU MUST SEE THIS FILM NOW.

Make no mistake, this movie is cheesy and "bad" in the conventional sense: the story is preposterous, the poetry is silly, and the acting is inconsistent.

But these are the film's CHARMS--all of these ingredients form the recipe for one of the most UNDERAPPRECIATED CHEEZY FILMS of the 80's.

If the reference to "deaf mutants" didn't pique your interest, then perhaps this will: What kind of name is "Rex Voorhas Ormine", anyway? It is such an unusual name (for North American audiences) that I said to myself, "even the names of the characters in this friggin' movie are firggin' silly."

Well, "The Beat" is so fabulously cheezy that the "meaning" and "symbolism" behind "Rex Voorhas Ormine" is revealed not-too-subtly by Bart Waxman (the misguided guidance counselor you love to hate). I won't spoil the revelation behind Rex's name, but please don't get too excited, O.K.?

Overall, the acting is inconsistent (John Savage--who plays the "concerned teacher" Mr. Ellsworth is pretty good, as is the fellow playing Bart Waxman, but the rest of the cast are unconvincing). That said, the acting does NOT detract from the film. Why? There is a SINCERITY in each of the actors' performances that makes the characters they play endearing. So although the performances may suck, you are still left with the impression that the actors are really trying to do their best. As a result, the actors' sincerity succeeds where their acting fails (which is quite often).

The homage to "beat poetry" in this film is bad, bad, bad. But this is a good, good, good thing when it comes to entertainment. Would you actually enjoy "better quality" or "more respectable" poetry--especially in a film like this?

Folks, that would be BORING (think about the droll they made us read in high school--sanitized to avoid "corrupting the youth", politically conservative and devoid of any critical analysis, etc.) Even if you don't like poetry or "arty" movies (with all of the "intellectual" posturing that implies), you most certainly can (and should) appreciate LUDICROUS POETRY in a WANNABE ART FILM!!!! How could you not enjoy the following?

"do you remember the roar of the dinosaur? a woman's scotty craps on the floor bad scotty bad, oh the woman's so sad she washes her hands and then waits by the door today, yeah--today!"

Yes, that is an example of some of the remarkable poetry liberally sprinkled throughout "The Beat." But what about the story, you ask?

Well, the story is preposterous. But then again, that is the beauty of this film. Apart from some cliches, stereotypes, and predictable plot points, there are enough genuinely unique elements to the plot/story to keep things interesting. Who is Rex? Where did he come from? What the heck is he talking about? Deaf mutants? Illiterate angels? Do Billy and Kate REALLY understand what Rex is saying? Is the audience supposed to understand Rex and his poetry posse? (I've seen the movie several times and I still haven't figured everything out.)

Will bad poetry and high school talent shows really END GANG VIOLENCE?

I guarantee that you have never seen anything quite like "The Beat"--a perfect combination of brilliantly bad poetry, mediocre-yet-sincere acting, and a "mythopoetics conquers gang violence" storyline that has YET TO BE RIVALLED BY ANY FILM EVER MADE.

Bonus for fans of classic NYC hardcore: The Cro-Mags make a rare film appearance as the "Iron Skulls" and it's a hoot to see them perform several songs. I wish they included more concert footage, but maybe that will be an "extra" included on the "collector's edition" DVD I fantasize about.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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