To prove his brother's innocence, undercover officer Nick enrolls in high school again, dealing with crushes, bullies, humiliations, popularity swings, and quirky teachers and staff to find the real murderer.
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This a movie that stuck with me, with the odd line of dialogue, or the iconographic facial expression popping into my head unsolicited for years later. The humour is constant, but understated; the acting was all well-done, and the plot carried itself. The viewer sees Nick start off clumsily, and practically cheers when he starts to be affected by the kids he's never got along with as he starts to understand them.
Nick looks more developed than the bullies who try to intimidate him, but he always carries himself with a casually awkward air that could fit right in with a group of teens. His and Ms. Torrence's attraction to one another is carefully done - believable, but not overwhelming, so you forgive other characters missing it.
It is not easy playing a 'quirky' character in a movie like this. The cast had to walk a line, never going so far that the movie became slapstick (the script would not have supported that), and did an excellent job. Check out Diane Ladd, for instance: her implication that a by-the-book persona covered a passionate nature was perfectly done. And Abe Vigoda, with that fantastic face - looks like a basset hound when serious, like a game show host when smiling! Often he does both within a few seconds of each other. Seymour Cassel, Robert Stack, George Wendt, Suzy Amis, and Jackie Gayle all showed great comedic delivery.
The minimal violence and sex was well-done, as well. Often such things are better implied than shown, and although there was some (it IS a murder mystery, and there are romantic entanglements to deal with), it was appropriate. The music, montages, costuming and settings were all make for a believable a late-80s high school, although the dialogue was overblown for comedic effect.
There was a slight glitch in the characterization when it is at first implied Nick (like his brother) has a hair-trigger temper, and then spends most of the more tense, humiliating scenes acting like he has (more than) adult control. It worked for the plot, though. The clues dropped for the mystery are often disguised as humour; I do not think the audience will have an "Aha!" moment like Nick apparently does, but it worked well in this context.
More than one fan has said they want this on DVD - well, me, too! But I do not see a way to suggest it on Paramount's home page, so I will try to make do with a deteriorating VHS copy. If anyone wants to tell me how to make my vote known, I would welcome it! _Plain Clothes_ on digital! With any extras you can dig up after two decades! PLEASE!
(And, as an aside, what a useless title: when I tried to find this movie, the title was the thing I never remembered about it.)
All said, a fun, light-hearted movie, full of human nature, nostalgia, and quotable lines.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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