Where Have You Gone, Charlie Tweeder??   Leave a comment


A nation turns it's lonely eyes to you?

My wife and I have very different tastes when it comes to movies.  She’s a fan of drama, mystery/crime, and horror – aka movies you watch one time until you forget most of the plot then you can watch them again (I bought her Alpha Dog as a joke present once and she loved it).  I am more a fan of comedy movies where you can re-watch them many times as the plot of the film isn’t as important as the jokes that remain funny no matter how many times you see or hear them (I have seen Step Brothers and The Burbs roughly three hundred times each).  Because of that difference of opinion, it is rare that we both agree on a movie to watch.  One exception to this rule is Varsity Blues.  My wife likes it because, well, to be honest, it has just enough drama and more importantly Dawson and the guy from The Fast and the Furious either have their shirts off or wear shirts without sleeves for a good portion of the film.  I like it because of Charlie Tweeder, the hilarious, over-the-top party character who was basically Stiffler from American Pie with a 4.4 forty-yard dash and hands that could catch any pass thrown in his direction…and because when compared to Billy Bob I actually appear to be in half-way decent shape.

I re-watched the movie a little over a week ago and began to wonder where movies like Varsity Blues went.  Remember teen movies from the 1990’s?  Specifically 1999? American Pie, Can’t Hardly Wait (1998…sorry), She’s All That, 10 Things I Hate About You, Drive Me Crazy, and Varsity Blues (basically all the movies Teen Movie made fun of)?  What happened to over-the-top, exaggerated teen movies?  Most had every high school demographic represented:  the overly popular jock, the less popular but more easy-to-relate-to-guy, the gorgeous cheerleader/snotty/morally questionable girl, the not as gorgeous but still cute and much more down to earth “other girl”, the somewhat lovable geek, and the crazy party guy.  The plot usually centered around a party, prom, or game that was so larger-than-life it usually involved a choreographed dance number or participants who looked like pro athletes.

This man changed teen movie history?

Somewhere between 2000 and 2004, the “teen movie” concept changed.  Loser, although a huge bomb, and American Wedding, where the band geek and Jason Biggs (coincidently, the lead in Loser) ended up together and Stiffler became a softie instead of the party-hard lacrosse jock we met years earlier, started the trend that Napoleon Dynamite eventually mastered.  Instead of glorifying how high school unfortunately tends to be with the rich, attractive, and athletic kids getting the majority of the attention and always coming out on top, the movies focused on portraying what some would call the “lesser” groups and showed them winning (Charlie Sheen your copyright money is in the mail…I promise) over the popular groups.  Napoleon shopped at thrift stores and could barely handle riding a bike.  Despite those “limitations”, we couldn’t get enough of him and we couldn’t stand the former over-the-top jock Uncle Rico.  “Ligers” and “bo staff skills” became regular topics of conversation.  “McLovin” became a cultural icon.  Michael Cera and Jonah Hill, two guys who would have been cast as “the Sherminator” and a sober driver in 1999, were able to be leading-role caliber movie stars in the new century.

As a former high school cross country and track runner, I appreciated these movies as they were about guys like me when I was in high school.  I weighed 120 lbs soaking wet.  I was a smartass, but wisely always avoided running my mouth to the wrong people.  My friends and I did really dumb things with a lot of our weekends, including filming our own versions of “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” music videos and marching through Wendy’s restaurants chanting “I’m the Whiz” from Seinfeld.  I dated girls, but they were never the future model, “prom queen”-types (if any of you are reading this, sorry, but it’s true…also, my phone and address are unlisted and my wife, thanks to the massive pregnancy hormones, now has Hulk-like strength).  They were smart, normal, and down to earth …and according to 1999 teen movies, they, and I, were bad things.

Unfortunately, if the ebb and flow of teen movies of the past is any indication, teen movies will eventually swing back to the Usher-led dance number movies of the late 1990’s.  After doing a little research, I realized this had already happened in the 1980’s.  Movies like Risky Business, All the Right Moves, and Sixteen Candles opened the decade with the same types of parties, proms, and characters seen in films like those in the late 90’s.  One could argue the turning point of the decade was Teen Wolf, where we saw Michael J. Fox be a part of both sides of the spectrum, with the nerdy, unathletic side eventually winning out over the cool, white leisure suit wearing, unstoppable basketball player “wolf” and the less attractive, girl next door character of Boo winning Fox’s heart over the gorgeous and extremely popular blonde Pamela Wells character.  Following Teen Wolf, movies like The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and The Goonies featured beloved “geek”-like characters who triumphed over or won the respect of the high school elite.  When this will happen again, I have no idea.  My guess would be sometime after Glee runs it’s course on TV and once the Jonas Bros. hit the weight room.

To close and answer your questions, yes, I really did go through and look this stuff up.  Yes, I had that kind of spare time today.  Below is a list of teen movies in chronological order with release years from the 1980’s through today that shows what I am talking about:

Risky Business 1983

All the Right Movies 1983

Sixteen Candles 1984

Footlose 1984

The Karate Kid 1984

Teen Wolf 1985

Weird Science 1985

Just One of the Guys 1985

Breakfast Club 1985

The Goonies 1985

Pretty In Pink 1986

The Karate Kid Part 2 1986

Lucas 1986

Ferris Buehler 1986

Say Anything 1989

The Karate Kid Part 3 1989

Clueless 1995

Can’t Hardly Wait 1998

American Pie 1999

Cruel Intentions 1999

She’s All That 1999

10 Things I Hate About You 1999

Varsity Blues 1999

Drive Me Crazy 1999

Bring It On 2000

Road Trip 2000

Loser 2000

Van Wilder 2002

American Wedding 2003

Napoleon Dynamite 2004

Juno 2007

Superbad 2007

Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist 2008

The House Bunny 2008

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 2010

Easy A 2010

Thanks IMDB.com

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