Midnight Madness [1980]

Nothing dates a movie quite as much as a roller-skating blonde in white shorts and a tube top. Midnight Madness opens with exactly that and quickly follows with a scene in which a student counselor reassures a romantically nervous freshman with the line, "Flynch, you could be a real Burt Reynolds, I know you could." Ah, nostalgia. Made on the cusp of the '80s, after Animal House but before Porky's, Disney's college comedy gained a considerable following, thanks to countless screenings on HBO during the Reagan administration. Like all the best cult movies, it's awful, but compelling nonetheless. This is a film in which all the nerds look alike, the jocks have names such as Armpit, and you get to see fat twins shake their abundant disco booties. The plot revolves around an all-night scavenger hunt, with five teams of competing students racing around Los Angeles solving clues and getting into all sorts of amusing scrapes, including a visit to the Pabst brewery that will have you humming ancient advertising songs for days. David Naughton, who went on to star in An American Werewolf in London, is our hero, but the real fun comes from Stephen Furst as the mean and chubby rich kid and the legendary ├╝ber-nerd Eddie Deezen as Wesley. Michael J. Fox makes his film debut as Naughton's troubled but feisty kid brother, and the eagle-eyed viewer may even spot Paul Reubens in a tiny role. Being a Disney film that was released before Porky's made shower scenes an integral part of campus comedies, this is a curiously innocent movie--just watch how long it takes the teams to decipher the clue, "Look between the two giant melons." Nevertheless, Midnight Madness is 112 minutes of undemanding, cheesy fun for anyone who remembers the last days of disco. It makes Animal House look like Chekhov, but watch it with a group of friends, and perhaps a little Pabst Blue Ribbon, and you'll have a hoot. --Simon Leake

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