Saturday, January 10, 2009

Heaven Help Us

This past Saturday I went into Big Lots to buy some cd sleeves and of course I had to stop at their little DVD section. For some reason I have no control over this, I always try to check it as quick as I can even though I know it’s extremely unlikely I will find anything I’m interested in. However on this day I was incredibly lucky. I found a little gem from 1985 called Heaven Help Us. Sure it featured Donald Sutherland and John Heard but the movie really focused on 80s favorites Andrew McCarthy, Mary Stuart Masterson and Kevin Dillon. In smaller roles are Patrick Dempsey, Yeardley Smith (voice of Lisa Simpson), Dana Barron and Stephen Geoffreys. McCarthy, Masterson, Dillon, Dempsey and Smith all went on to bigger and better things and Barron has had a full career and still acts to this day. The most interesting person is Geoffreys. He seemed destined to have a brilliant career and had even been voted as one of the most promising young actors of 1985 (I believe). This was his first film released however in the same year he was in Fraternity Vacation and most notably Fright Night as Evil Ed. After this strong year he didn’t do very much for the rest of the decade and apparently started doing gay porn in the 90s. Only recently has he started acting in regular movies again. There has been some internet chatter that he never did porn but instead it was a brother that looks very similar to him who has done it. If so neither has ever tried to get this information corrected on , which is an in-depth database for movie, tv, etc.
information, or any other website for that matter. Personally, I have no interest in checking out any of these movies out to discover for myself if it is him. I’ll leave that to someone braver than me.

Back to the movie. It’s a coming of age story set in Brooklyn in 1965. McCarthy is a new student at a Catholic school whose grandmother has high hopes for him to be not only a priest but also eventually becoming the pope. Problem is he has no interest whatsoever in becoming a priest. Instead he’s figuring out what life is al about as he falls for Masterson’s character, a tough girl on the outside who drops out of school and is taking care of the soda shop while her father sinks farther into depression. She ends up being turned into city officials by the priests due to her protecting the students from being caught smoking and hanging out in the shop and is taken away by Children’s Services. Dillon is a wisecracking, somewhat dimwitted cool guy who talks a lot. He shows his true intelligence in his own areas of expertise by advising the other students on how to adjust their confessions so that they won’t get into more trouble. Gradually Dillon and McCarthy become friends with Dempsey, Geoffreys and Malcolm Danare who plays the intellectual Caesar. There is a side plot about a sadistic priest who dishes out corporal punishment in extremely brutal fashion that sets up the ending of the movie nicely. He pushes the boys to the breaking point and in turn gets punched by McCarthy (if you can believe that) and in a moment of polite justice gets transferred out of the school by Sutherland. The boys are suspended from school for 2 weeks much to their joy for their role in the beheading of a statue that led up to the physical confrontation and all is right with the world just like it always is in Hollywood.

Honestly this is not an award winning film but I found it quite enjoyable when I first saw it and still do today. It has held up well and the coming of age subject matter is always relevant no matter when you were born. Feel free to disagree but I for one like this movie a great deal and hey, it only cost three bucks. You can’t beat that in my book.

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