A Movie A Day #84: Made In U.S.A. (1987, directed by Ken Friedman)

Dar (Adrian Pasdar) and Tuck (Chris Penn) are two losers.  Dar is angry.  Tuck is a moron.  They live in a dying Pennsylvania industrial town, where they have no future.  Dar is worried that the air has been poisoned by the nearby coal mine.  He and Tuck decide to go to California so that they can look for a woman whose picture they’ve seen in a magazine.  Since Dar and Tucker have no money and no one is willing to pick up two hitchhikers who like they are on sabbatical from the Manson Family, they end up having to steal cars and hold up convenience stores.  They also pick up a mentally unstable woman named Annie (Lori Singer).  Annie may be dying because of all the pollution in the world.  Dar and Tuck take the time to transport a Native American runaway back to her reservation, where they both get scalped.  Mostly, Dar and Tuck just drive through some of the ugliest parts of America and talk about how, because of pollution, everything is all messed up.

In the 1990s, Made In U.S.A. used to show up frequently on HBO.  It’s a lousy movie, featuring one of the worst performances of Chris Penn’s career.  (Adrian Pasdar is also pretty bad but more is expected from Chris Penn than from Adrian Pasdar.)  Made in U.S.A. does provide a contrast to the relentlessly pro-American films that dominated the box office in the 1980s but it’s really only noteworthy for the soundtrack, which features songs by Sonic Youth and Timbuk3.

Whatever you do, do not mistake this Made In U.S.A. for Jean-Luc Godard’s.

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