WITH ITS STANDARD 1950s theme, "Mischief" is as comfortable as an old pair of saddle shoes, and just as worn.
Although it has some cute and silly moments, we can predict what's going to happen. There will be fights with parents, and the parents will win, for a time. Boys will be boys and girls will be sex objects. The hood will show the wimp the ways of the world. There will be pimples, proms, drive-ins, Chevy convertibles to crash, dresses to look up and bras to unhook.
But this reminiscence has its place, and if you haven't had enough Happy Days, by all means put on your blue suede shoes and cruise. Recall those teenage years (even if they weren't yours), to the clang of school lockers, the shrill crow of the English teacher and the crooning of Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, the Platters and Bill Haley and the Comets, whose songs are played all the way through. The oldies alone should be enough.
"American Graffiti" in 1973 set the standard for this sort of movie: It has yet to be matched in sensitivity, tautness of plot, fidelity of stereotypes and fine cast. For "Mischief," instead of "Where were you in '62?" we must ask, "How'd you get your kicks in '56?" But it takes more than six years to vary the trip down memory lane, and unfortunately, the route taken by "Mischief" is too familiar.
In the film, Chris Nash plays Gene, the bad boy, arousing our sympathies about as much as John Travolta did in "Grease," and not nearly as much as the Fonz could. Doug McKeon as Jonathan is the good kid who needs lessons in being cool. They instantly become friends (that happens all the time, doesn't it?). They lust for Bunny (Catherine Mary Stewart) and Marilyn (Kelly Preston). McKeon is a capable comic, incredibly hampered by the most idiotic dialogue this side of Blueberry Hill.
But, for the persistent nostalgia buff, there are rewards -- five cents on a cash register, a dollar's worth of gas, car hops, submarine races, Howdy Doody, mirror dice, stacks of 45s -- all the froth that's left at the end of the ice cream soda.
MISCHIEF (R) -- At area theaters.