Picks and Pans Review: Tuff Turf

UPDATED 03/18/1985 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/18/1985 at 01:00 AM EST

In still another teenage rite-of-passage flick, James (Endless Love) Spader plays a prep-school outcast who has to prove himself against the students of Lawson High, a Los Angeles school where most of the kids seem to be majoring in switchblade. He quickly falls for the chain-wearing, tight-jeaned, spike-heeled Kim (Hello, Larry) Richards. Thus begins the usual new-kid-on-foreign-turf adolescent romance. The resulting ego clashes lead to fight scenes of relentless, almost unwatchable violence that all but nullify the sympathetic performances the young cast provides. This production also borrows liberally from such films as Rebel Without a Cause, West Side Story and even last summer's hit The Karate Kid. If Spader lacks the introspective moodiness of James Dean, his performance is forceful yet vulnerable. Richards too shows the potential to break out of the child-star syndrome; she maintains an enticing reserve despite the burden of her routine sex-kitten role. The sound track, featuring the music of such people as Southside Johnny, Marianne Faithfull and Lene Lovich and slick onscreen stage performances by Jack Mack and the Heart Attack, is driving without being overbearing. The film is schizophrenic, though, alternately winning and abhorrently violent. Director Fritz (Children of the Corn) Kiersch misses whatever chance he had to rise above his picture's all-too-plentiful competition for the teenage movie dollar. (R)

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