Tonight, I’ve got insomnia.
Since I realized I wasn’t going to get any sleep, I decided I might as well watch a random movie via Encore On Demand. That movie turned out to be Class, a dramedy from 1983. (I love dramedies, especially when I’ve got insomnia.) I just finished watching it about 30 minutes ago and what can I say? If there’s any film that deserves to be known as a guilty pleasure, it’s Class.
Class tells the story of two prep school roommates. Skip (Rob Lowe) is rich and spoiled. Jonathan (Andrew McCarthy) is poor but brilliant. As the result of getting a perfect score on his SAT, Jonathan has already received a scholarship to Harvard. Their friendship gets off on a rocky start. Skip locks Jonathan outside while Jonathan is wearing black lingerie. Jonathan responds with a fake suicide. (Boys are so weird.) Not surprisingly, Jonathan and Skip become best friends and even share their darkest secrets. Skip admits to killing a man. Jonathan confesses to cheating on his SAT. One of the two friends is lying. Try to guess which one.
When Skip also discovers that Jonathan is a virgin, Skip makes it his mission to help his friend get laid. Skip pays for Jonathan to spend a weekend in Chicago. While there, Jonathan meets an older woman named Ellen (Jacqueline Bisset). Soon, Jonathan and Ellen are having a torrid affair.
Once Christmas break arrives, Skip takes Jonathan home with him. Jonathan meets Skip’s parents. Guess who turns out to be Skip’s mom.
Meanwhile, an officious investigator (Stuart Margolin) has shown up on campus. What is he investigating? SAT fraud, of course.
Class is a weirdly disjointed movie. On the one hand, it attempts to tell a rather melancholic coming-of-age tale, in which a naive young man learns about love from a beautiful but sad older woman. (This part of the film perhaps would have been more effective if there had been a single spark of chemistry between Andrew McCarthy and Jacqueline Bisset.) On the other hand, it also wants to be a heartfelt comedy about two best friends who come from opposite worlds. And then, on the third hand (that’s right — this movie has three hands!), it wants to be a raunchy teen comedy, complete with a stuffy headmaster, misogynistic dialogue, gratuitous nudity, and a lengthy scene where all of the students attempt to get rid of all of their weed and pills because they’ve been incorrectly told that there’s a narc on campus. That’s three different movies being crammed into a 90-minute film. Not surprisingly, the end result is an uneven mishmash of different themes and styles.
And yet, as uneven as the film may be, I still enjoyed it. As I watched, I knew that I should have been far more critical and nitpicky about the film’s many flaws but the movie itself is just so damn likable that I found myself enjoying it despite myself. Ultimately — like many guilty pleasures — Class is a film that is best appreciated as a portrait of the time it was made. Everything from the questionable fashion choices of the characters to the film’s not-so-subtle celebration of wealth and narcissism, serves to remind the viewer that Class was made in the 80s.
Finally, Class should be seen just for its cast. It’s undeniably odd to see an impossibly young and goofy-looking John Cusack making his film debut here as a rather snotty student named Roscoe. While Andrew McCarthy doesn’t have much chemistry with Jacqueline Bisset, he still gives a good performance and is simply adorable with his messy hair and glasses. And finally, who can resist young Rob Lowe, who was just as handsome in Class as he would be 30 years later in Parks and Recreation?
Class did not cure my insomnia.
But I’m still glad I watched it.
Previous Guilty Pleasures: