When I decided Lost Angeles needed a weekly movie review, I first decided not to limit myself with current offerings at the box office. There are thousands of movies and I didn’t want to force you to read reviews of movies that may not withstand the test of time. Basically, I am only going to review classic films, the kind we don’t get the pleasure of seeing anymore. The kind that are so good, it is totally possible they have not been converted from VHS to DVD yet. These are the kind of films that had you talking when you left the theater.
All that being said, I cannot think of a finer film to inaugerate my weekly review series than this week’s selection. It wasn’t chosen for its intense sports action or its deeply passionate romantic scenes. I picked this week’s film because it just may be the greatest American film of our, or any, generation.
Side Out (1990)
Monroe Clark (played almost uncomfortably perfectly by C Thomas Howell) is a total badass from Milwaukee and he’s just secured a totally sweet law job at his Uncle Max’s real estate law firm. Uncle Max (played almost frighteningly sensuously by Terry Kiser, who you may remember as the dead guy from the Oscar winning Weekend at Bernie’s I and II) rolls out the red carpet for his nephew, showing him his kick ass Palisades house and ultimate early 90’s tennis gear. He’s even got a cool Porsche, the kind that looks like a robotic turtle and the stereo only plays “Highway to the Danger Zone” on repeat.
Monroe is tasked with serving an eviction notice to local beach bum Zack Barnes (played almost freakishly erotically by Peter Horton), but that proves to be difficult. Around the same time, Monroe meets Samantha, a local waitress (played almost outrageously seductively by Courtney Thorne Smith) and she points Monroe in the direction of the burgeoning beach culture of Southern California. There, Monroe simply falls in love with the world’s most popular and dynamic sport: beach volleyball.
Wylie Hunter (played almost shockingly massochistically by Christopher Rydell) is a local aspiring volleyballer who spots Monroe right away and offers him the chance to turn pro. This sets up perhaps the greatest line in American cinematic history. When Wylie asks Monroe if he can play beach volleyball, Monroe tells him that, “I used to play at little six man back in Milwaukee.” You know from his elegance and comfortable delivery that not only has he played a lot of six man back in Milwaukee, but that he also may be the best beach volleyball player of all time. Neo from the Matrix was clearly based on Monroe from Side Out. It’s plagerism.
Wylie and Monroe begin to train for the big tournament which will change their lives forever and Monroe begins to fall into the greatest on screen romance of all time with Samantha, who has all the best sweatshirts. Her scrunchies should win the lifetime achievement award at the Oscars. Each glorious one of them. Things seem totally bad ass.
Then the heat gets turned up. Zack Barnes, the guy Monroe is trying to evict, turns out the be the greatest volleyball player of all time, except he is drunk almost all of the time. Despite being awesome and totally laid back, it becomes obvious that Zack is the Miyagi to Wylie and Monroe’s collective Daniel-san. Monroe decides he must delay the eviction process and avoid going “all suit”. This proves to be difficult as Uncle Max gets wild ass pissed everytime Monroe comes up with an excuse. Max thought Monroe would be the Terminator. He is, just at volleyball.
The greatest cinematic reversal of all time comes when finally, Monroe gets tough and takes Zack to court, telling him, “I hope you have a suit.” Zack does have a suit and shows up looking super casual and cooler than the whole “law” thing. Monroe is totally kicking the law’s ass here for a while. It looks like Zack is totally done for and Uncle Max looks stoked. He can’t wait to get in the Porsche, throw on his Wayfarers and rock out to “Highway to the Danger Zone” some more. Only Monroe refuses to sell out. At the last second, Monroe finds a loophole that essentially blows the case for himself and Uncle Max. Zack gives him a nod that seems to elegantly say, “I am really glad you didn’t sell out and get me kicked out onto the street”. Monroe gives him a look back that seems to say, “Thanks man, I am glad I didn’t sell out. Now let’s go tear up the beach volleyball circuit.”
Uncle Max kicks Monroe out and takes away his access to the Porsche and the Wayfarers. That’s okay though because Zack let’s Monroe move in. Things are awesome until two things happen. First, Zack’s ex wife (played almost exclusively nakedly by Rick Moranis’ wife in Parenthood) shows up to mess with Zack’s head and Wylie sustains a serious injury. Not only is Monroe without a partner, but Zack is all distracted by his ex who is also now representing Rollo Vincent, who is literally Drago from Rocky IV, only he’s in this movie not Rocky IV. Even better, Rollo Vincent is played almost undeniably awesomely by Randy Stoklos, who was a REAL VOLLEYBALL PLAYER AT THE TIME!
Monroe and Zack become a wicked good duo on the sand. They look hard to beat. They hit the tournament and hit it hard. They are tearing up the competition and giving each other high fives that are so cool it I had to bite my knuckles to keep from standing up and screaming, “awesome!” at the top of my lungs. But the closer Zack gets to reaching the top again, the more and more his stupid ex is messing with his mind. Basically, if he wins, she is not giving him any more sex, and apparently Zack will miss that sex so much he SHOWS UP LATE TO THE FINALS. This is super embarrassing for Monroe who just stands there and is all, “this sucks”.
At the last second, Zack shows up and it is totally on. They are running and spiking and fighting and all kinds of cool stuff. I will NOT ruin the ending, but needless to say, this will be the best movie you have ever seen. You can tell from the cover.
You should get extra excited for next week. It will be even cooler when I take on 1993’s Airborne. No spoilers. Just hold tight.
Here’s a clip from Side Out just to get you pumped: