To kick off the companion to Movies that Suck, Dustin introduces 1985’s “Teen Wolf” as the first HefferBrew “Movies That Rule.”
Encompassing everything we remember fondly about the 80’s, the 1985 film “Teen Wolf” stands the test of time as a seminal movie that appeals to all generations.
The film, written by acclaimed comic writer Jeph Loeb, tells the story of Scott Howard, (played by the MVP of 80’s filmmaking, Michael J. Fox) a young man unable to stand out at high school. He’s an average player on the school basketball team and he barely registers on the radar of class hottie, Pamela Wells. His best friend, Stiles, is far cooler than he is and he doesn’t even realize that his cute nerd friend Boof (yeah, Boof) has feelings for him.
That all changes when it’s revealed that Scott’s family is actually werewolves, his werewolf father choosing to not mention it until after he’s already put two and two together because he thought it may skip a generation. Scott is reluctant at first, unsure whether to think of it as a gift or a curse, but after transforming in the middle of a game, in front of the school, he dominates the rest of the game and leads the less-than-fortunate Beavers to a rare win. Somehow as the wolf, he becomes a terrifying combination of LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlin that dunks like Derrick Rose (insert LeBron hairline joke here.)
The school does what any logical organization would do at the discovery of one of their students being a werewolf; they market the shit out of him. Suddenly, the mascot is a wolf, kids are selling hand-printed shirts with his face on them and everyone in the school wants to party down with the wolf, aware that he is in fact, a hormonal teenager who can turn into a throat-tearing wolf at any point.
This newfound popularity doesn’t come without a price though as Scott begins to alienate Stiles and Boof in favor of the popular groups he had so desired to be a part of before.
Eventually, he realizes that he’s losing sight of who he is due to the popularity, he decides that he must contain the wolf in order to pay attention to what really matters.
In the end, Scott (no wolf) proves to be the hero of the game, despite a blatant disregard of the rules with the deciding free throws, and he and Boof become an item as lessons fly at you faster than humanly possible to comprehend.
The film serves as a sort of “Room of Requirement” to the viewer, if you want to enjoy it, it gives you everything you need including; surfing on vans, Randy Newman montages and enough awkward wolf/girl sexual tension to spare.
These all serve as a veil to the messages and metaphors to the teen years and puberty. The puberty similarities are pretty obvious, especially in the scene where Scott’s dad finally discusses his condition with him, but others sneak in there too. Scott’s realization that kids just like him as the wolf shows that high school can be a vicious time, students often use one another as means to climb social ladders and gain invisible standing, it’s easy to get lost in it but ultimately, your true friends will always shine through.
A special shoutout is in order to the team’s coach, Bobby Flinstock. Coach Flinstock is the perfect blend of grizzled mentor and burnout loser, and he delivers some of the film’s most memorable scenes.
To some it’s the dumbest thing and it makes no sense because it’s a werewolf playing basketball, but hey, that’s a testament to the 80’s.
The best part of the film though, is of course, Michael J. Fox. As I stated earlier, Fox was easily the MVP of 1980’s Hollywood, a statement backed by “Teen Wolf.” The film opened number two at the box office, what film was number one you ask? “Back to the Future.” Yeah, that’s right; MJ.F had the top two movies at the box office- the same weekend. No one even came close to this in the 80’s (possibly Molly Ringwald but the decade is allowed a queen to accompany the king) because no one was as bankable as Michael J. Fox was. He sold every movie he was in; “Teen Wolf,” “Doc Hollywood” and the “Secret of My Success” as well as the other “Back to the Future” movies all succeeded at the box office.
“Teen Wolf” was successful enough to warrant a Jason Bateman-starring sequel, as well as a short-lived animated series soon after. Recently, MTV launched a series called “Teen Wolf” that follows a young man in high school who happens to be a wolf, but with a decidedly less fun approach. All of these have made the franchise pretty lucrative, but in terms of a heart and a message, as hidden as it can be through all that fur, “Teen Wolf” is the only entry in the franchise that has any bite.
And if that doesn’t count, hey, at least he can dunk.
Dustin Brewer is an editor and co-creator of HefferBrew. He holds “Teen Wolf” as one of the best sports movies ever and even spent a period of his childhood telling friends and classmates he would be teen wolf when he grew up. They laughed, he learned.