This film is a throwback to a time when teen movies weren’t profound explorations of angst-ridden suburbanite kids. Nor is it quite like the foray into the social dynamic of the students at Ridgemont High, accompanied to music.
It’s more of a wild, unfettered celebration of teenage rebellion. As produced by Roger Corman, it’s a fond re-creation of the rock ‘n roll movies of his youth—except updated with late 70s music.
But even more to the point, the head rebel in this flick is a cool chick named Riff Randell (played with great enthusiasm by P. J. Soles)! And her favorite band is The Ramones!
Far from being a groupie, Riff has written a song for the band and intends to go to their concert when they hit town, where she’ll present Joey Ramone with the tune. The song is called … wait for it! … “Rock ‘n Roll High School”!
As in many youth-oriented films, Riff’s greatest antagonist is an adult—in this case, the quasi-fascist Principal Togar (played by Mary Woronov—who bears a striking resemblance to Tim Curry in a sensible woman’s suit). However, with the help of best friend and shy co-conspirator Kate Rambeau (played by Dey Young), Riff thwarts Togar’s attempts to keep her from buying tickets.
The movie is such fun, it’s almost a shame you have to sit through the parts with Clint Howard (who plays a would-be matchmaker) and Vince Van Patten (as a rather boring, lovelorn boy who wants to date Riff). But if you grit your teeth and wait for the dumb parts to end, the film quickly moves back into the main story.
One of the best things about the film is its honest depiction of female teen sexual fantasy—but not in an R-rated way. It’s really more about seduction than nudity. This is clear from a scene in which Riff smokes in her room and fantasizes about Joey Ramone (with band) singing “I Want You Around” to her.
Without revealing spoilers, I’ll just say that the story escalates, with Principal Togar pitting the parents against the kids. But love wins by the ending, which is sheer pandemonium.
If you DO care about spoilers, skip the following video! 😉
I’m tempted to give this one thumb up, but the movie’s sheer exuberance more than makes up for its flaws. So I’m giving it two thumbs up! 🙂
My thanks to Pop Culture Reverie for the opportunity to participate in The Back-to-School Blogathon!