Johnny Be Good (1988)

Every college in the country wants Johnny. 'Cause when he's good he's very very good. And when he's bad he's better.

It's recruiting time and despite being short and scrawny, Johnny Walker is America's hottest young football prospect. His dilemma: should he take one of the many offers from college talent scouts or should he attend the local state college with his girlfriend and give up his football career?

Uneven goofy teen comedy, but often fun and funny
RELEASED IN 1988 and directed by Bud Smith, "Johnny Be Good" is a high school comedy starring Anthony Michael Hall as Johnny Walker from central Texas, America's most wanted football prospect. Should Johnny take one of the tempting offers from scores of talent scouts or should he attend the local state college with his babe (Uma Thurman), giving up his football dream? Paul Gleason plays his dubiously motivated coach while Robert Downey Jr. is on hand as his amusing bud.
If you remember Hall from “Sixteen Candles” (1984) and “The Breakfast Club” (1985) you might think he would be too geeky to play a quarterback stud, but he’s older here and more beefed up, not to mention 6’2”. He and Downey Jr. have great chemistry and the movie scores pretty well on the feminine front with Thurman in her debut, as well as Jennifer Tilly, Hayley Ladner (Juicy Dorfman) and some other peripherals. On the other side of the spectrum, Steve James is a stunning example of masculinity as the coach at the state college (too bad Steve died so young from cancer of unknown origin). Jim McMahon has a quality cameo.
While there’s some semi-serious drama, the tone is often silly, but the movie’s kinetic and offers numerous laughs. Anyone who criticizes the film for being goofy might as well criticize water for being wet. Unfortunately the story’s awkwardly uneven and there are curious lulls. If the script were tightened up this could’ve been a hit in the 80’s teen comedy genre.
Lastly, the flick features a fun rockin’ soundtrack with the likes of Judas Priest’s “Johnny B. Goode,” which plays over the end credits.
THE MOVIE RUNS 1 hour 31 minutes and was shot in the San Antonio area (Georgetown & Alamo Heights) and Texas Stadium, Irving (near Dallas).
GRADE: C+

Orion Pictures by Bud S. Smith, Steve Zacharias, Jeff Buhai, David Obst.
Stars: Anthony Michael Hall, Robert Downey Jr., Paul Gleason, Uma Thurman.

Genres: Comedy, Sport

Keywords: sport

03/25/1988

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