Just a country boy
Born and raised in South Des Moines
He took the midnight bus to anywhere….
That’s the story of Darryl Cage, the protagonist of the 1986 film, Out of Bounds. Played by Anthony Michael Hall, Darryl is an Iowa farm boy who goes to Los Angeles to live with his brother. Unfortunately, when his flight lands, Darryl’s suitcase is switched with another one that’s full of cocaine! Darryl becomes an accidental drug mule and end up getting his brother killed! WHAT A DUMBASS!
So now, Darryl is on the run. He’s a small town farmer in the big city, trying to avoid bad guy Roy (Jeff Kober) and the police, led by Lt. Delgado (Glynn Turman). Fortunately, Darryl meets an aspiring actress named Dizz (Jenny Wright). Dizz gives him a makeover and introduces him to the Los Angeles club scene. Siouxsie and the Banshees make a cameo appearance at one club. They perform one song and fortunately, it’s Cities in the Dust. Unfortunately, they don’t actually get involved in the plot of the film. I would have liked to have seen Siouxsie beat up Jeff Kober. But it doesn’t happen.
Out of Bounds is one of the many films that came out in the mid-to-late-80s in which the actors who were (somewhat unfairly) considered to be Brat Packers attempted to prove that they were capable of doing more than just projecting teen angst. Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy, for instance, starred in a forgettable neo-noir called Blue City. Andrew McCarthy starred in an interesting but ultimately uneven film called Kansas. Emilio Estevez not only starred in Wisdom but he directed it too. And Anthony Michael Hall starred in Out of Bounds.
Anthony Michael Hall was best-known for playing nerdy characters in Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club and it’s probable that he was attempting to escape being typecast when he took his role in Out of Bounds. This was Anthony Michael Hall’s chance to play an action hero! Unfortunately, Anthony Michael Hall made the same mistake that many of his peers made while trying to give the performance that would allow them to break free of the Brat Pack label. He tried too hard. While Glynn Turman, Jeff Kober and Jenny Wright obviously understood the type of rather silly movie that Out of Bounds was going to be and they modified their performances accordingly, Anthony Michael Hall apparently tried to duplicate the method intensity of Marlon Brando or James Dean. In other words, Hall took the film far more seriously than it deserved to be taken.
Out of Bounds get off to a bad start as soon as it opens with Anthony Michael Hall on the farm in Iowa. There’s absolutely nothing about the young Anthony Michael Hall that leaves on with the impression that he’s ever spent any time on a farm. Everything about him screams Hollywood before he even lands in Los Angeles. Hence, it gets difficult to really buy him as being the wide-eyed innocent that everyone else views him as being. Since a good deal of the film’s plot is dependent upon Hall being naïve, that’s a problem. He may be a farm boy but he certainly doesn’t freak out after shooting someone. He’s also somehow learned how to throw a knife straight into someone’s gut. Out of Bound‘s director, Richard Tuggle, directed two films for Clint Eastwood so he obviously knew how to frame a fight scene but Hall is so miscast that it’s impossible to really get into the movie.
The film is pretty much stolen by Jenny Wright and Jeff Kober. Kober is properly menacing and, just as she did in Near Dark and I, Madman, Jenny Wright works wonders with a role that could have just been formulaic. Jenny Wright has apparently retired from acting. Jeff Kober still shows up in movies and on television, usually playing villains. (Earlier this year, he played yet another drug trafficker on General Hospital.) Watching them give compelling performance in a film like Out of Bounds, it’s hard not to feel that both of them deserved bigger career than they had (or, in Kober’s case, still have).
The film is also stolen by its soundtrack, which is very 80s but in the best possible way. Adam Ant, The Smiths, the aforementioned Souixsie and the Banshees, they all make an appearance and provide the film with a bit of narrative momentum that it would otherwise lack. Watching the film, 80s Los Angeles comes across like a fun place. No wonder Darryl Cage wanted to stay even though everyone was trying to kill him.
Out of Bounds is ultimately pretty forgettable and it didn’t make Anthony Michael Hall into an action star. But, that’s okay. Like a lot of former Brat Packers, he’s proven himself to be a reliable character actor. There is life after high school. Even more importantly, there’s also life after Iowa.