My BodyGuard -- Annandale, Beacon Mall, Buckingham, Laurel Cinema, Tenley Circle, Riverdale Plaza, Roth's Parkway, Roth's Sivler Spring East, Roth's Tysons Corner.
The bicycle ride with which "My Bodyguard" opens is a good sign. We are in need of another "Breaking Away" to refresh us in this summer of heavy and muggy movies.
And we have it. "My Bodyguard" is a fresh, pointed, unpretentious, funny and poingnant pictuire that, like "Breaking Away," is also about growing up. Director Tony Bill's claim for it, that "it isn't corny, it isn't violent, and it isn't trendy," is true and significant.
An engaging 15-year-old who lives an Eloise life in the Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago, which his father manages and his grandmother prowls for elderly pick-ups, transfers from privateschool to a rough public one on the South Side. Under a light layer of comedy is the film's solid theme, which is coping with bullying.
The script was written by Alan Ormsby -- it's his first -- and was "developed" with Bill, who has done this with new scripwriters as a producer, but is directing a feature for the first time. The actors range from a kid whose last experience was in his high-school play, Adam Baldwin, to surely the oldest shameless trickster in the business, Ruth Gordon.
Baldwin and the other parts, big and small, that carry the school scenes -- the more serious part of the film -- areexcellent: Chris Makepeace in the lead, Matt Dillon as the bully, Kathyrn Grody as a teacher and many others. lThe farcical parts, which take place atthe hotel, consist of Gordon's "Maude" act (a national institution, criticism of which will be avoided by perhaps the only person in America who can't stand it) and Martin Mull's harassed modern-man act, as also seen in "Serial."
These locales, and what they represent, are nicely interwoven -- there's a bully on the hotel staff who's a three-piece-suit version of the one school -- but the teenagers' problems seem more universally applicable, as well as more dramaticallysignificant. It's interesting that the best films of the last year or two, such as "Breaking Away," "Fame," "Black Stallion", are about youngsters. (So are many of the clunkers -- "Little Darlings,"" "The Blue Lagoon" and such.) It's as if the young are the only ones who have not yet solidfied into cliches.