January is Prison Month at CHUD. We figured that since it’s a bright new year with tons of hope we’d spotlight movies about jail. Seems to make perfect sense. Prison movies are a staple in Hollywood. They are brutal, inspiring, formulaic, and unless you’re having a particularly bad run make you feel a bit better about your own lot in life. This January we’ll share some of the best, worst, and most peculiar.
The Prison Flick: Bad Boys (1983) Buy it from CHUD
Featured Talent: Sean Penn, Clancy Brown, Esai Morales, Reni Santoni, Alan Ruck, Ally Sheedy, Jim Moody. Rick Rosenthal (director)
The Plot: Mick O’Brien (Sean Penn) is a Chicago street tough who accidentally drives over the little brother of his arch rival (Esai Morales, one of the more underrated actors out there) and finds himself in the pokey. After being tested he’s soon running the place on the inside. Unfortunately, he cannot protect his loved ones outside the prison and one thing leads to another which leads to his arch rival being in the same prison as he. Bad Boys ensue.
Quality: It’s aged pretty poorly but back in the day it was a pretty hard ass little movie. I was 11. I was impressionable. I used to watch this on Videodisc thinking I was a real grown up. It was a pivotal role for Sean Penn but it’s truly a mishmash of stereotypes filtered through a most gauzy 80’s lens.
Racial Tension: Loads. Stereotypes abound. There’s even a prototypical Jewish kid as Mick’s cellmate. Chinese, Black, Irish, Latin, Italian… all are racially insulted.
Does Someone Die To Teach an Important Lesson? Of course! Alan Ruck takes the immediate loss and lays the groundwork for a career built on men who get it handed to them. A little boy is driven over and does not enjoy it. We realize that prison isn’t a sweet place when a scrawny young man receives 250,000 contributions to his buttocks by a fellow inmate.
Grievous Prison Shit: Clancy Brown’s character Viking puts a ball of snot in Mick’s green beans. People are hit with soda can filled pillows. Punches. Shankings. A veritable dearth of hugs.
“Let’s go smash that white dude.”
1 hour and 28 magical minutes in.
Is there penetration behind bars? Heck yeah. A little African American newbie gets himself raped and then thrown to death. It happens.
Random Notes: Loudest gunshots ever. Also, the same gunshot sound every time. Clancy Brown’s hairstyle is something to behold. You can’t totally hate a prison with its own RC Cola machine. There is an absolutely awful scene about 36 minutes in with Ally Sheedy having a talk with her father. The acting, music, and everything in between is an atrocity. It’s a miracle she got work after this. Reni Santoni is an actor who could have only found success in the 80’s. The warden looks like the love child of Kurtwood Smith and David Rasche. Bill Conti is a legendary composer but his work here is decidedly pedestrian. When Horowitz pours a garbage can of empty milk cartons over Viking Lofgren it takes every acting skill in Clancy Brown’s arsenal to make it seem like a concern. Worst dubbing ever at the 59 minute mark. Quietest punches ever during the rape scene. With the gunshots being so loud it was surprising that this scene features such low key foley work considering the savagery of the moment.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars