Second Glance: Part 3
Wow, work and family really got in the way of my Second-Glance-critiquing duties these past two weeks. I feel guilty, leaving the fate of Scotty an open question.
HAVE YOU BEEN ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEAT???
Fear not, all shall soon be revealed.
Dan and his buddies ditch and head to the malt shop. (Or the local Friendly’s. Whichever.) There, Mr. Millner is one of the waiters. Bitter and angry (I mean, a bit more so than when he was a teacher), he cites the kids “messing with my car” and being “all alike” as his reasons for leaving. Arriving home, Dan discovers a shiny new car, that he bought with money he won gambling on football games. His parents are divorced, his mom is dating, and Jenny was never born. Nonplussed at this, Dan heads to Randy’s party with Tamara. There, Melanie arrives to announce that she is pregnant and Dan is the father. Tamara dumps his ass, Dan forces Melanie to admit she’s lying, but then Bull shows up in a jealous rage. He chases Dan to the church, where Dan is magically made a believer again. Angel Muriel explains the lessons Dan needed to learn, and Dan happily returns to his old life, asking Vickie out, and ending the movie with a hearty, “Jesus, man!”
Millner: But, then, you’re all the same, aren’tcha? A bunch of spoiled kids whose only understanding of life comes from watching music videos! Hey! [to a waitress] Wait on these no-goods for me, will ya?
Ruby: Yanno, I can’t work up a lot of sorry for the guy. He was a jerk and appeared to hate all kids everywhere.
Angus: And he busted Dan for cheating. Falsely.
Dan’s mom delightedly heads off on her date with Wes.
Ruby: She looks so happy! Clearly getting divorced was the best thing that happened to her. Are we really supposed to be upset about this?
Angus: She’s cheerful and full of life and dating a nice guy. What’s the problem?
Dan and Muriel have the following jaw-dropping dialogue, and I feel I must emphasize here that I have not altered the dialogue in any way.
Dan: Hey, what’s up with my mom? And where’s my dad and Jenny?
Muriel: Your folks have been divorced for several years. You see, it was your prayers that held your folks together when they were going through the tough times. Since you weren’t there to pray for them, they split up. As for Jenny, she was never born.
Angus: Oh, that’s a great lesson for the kids out there: if your parents get divorced, it is ALL YOUR FAULT for not praying hard enough.
Ruby: I can’t believe they want kids to see this movie. Remember, kiddies, YOU are responsible for holding your parents’ marriage toghether.
Angus: Do we even need to reiterate that Dan’s parents looked pissy and bitter when they were Christians, and now Dan’s mom is radiantly happy and dating a nice guy?
Dan: Look, I’m not believing any of this stuff.
Angus: *facepalming* Okay, how much more evidence does this idiot need?
Muriel: You had a big influence with Mr. Millner, too. He really liked you. Many days, you were his only bright spot. Then he got frustrated with the other sudents and left. Too bad, because he was one of the best teahcers.
Ruby: *snorts* Millner was one of the best teachers? He seemed like a bitter asshole to me. Nice comment on the other kids at school. Like Vickie, who was always studying hard, and Tamara, who was doing everything she could to improve her grades, and really wanted to succeed.
At this point, Dan prepares for the party. It is worth noting that he tumbled out of bed this morning in his orange t-shirt, and ran right out the door to school. Now, his routine of party-readiness consists of: a) brushing his teeth, b) applying mousse, c) applying aftershave, and d) changing clothes.
Ruby: *snickering* So, no shower, then? Not all day? And no shave—just apply the aftershave? Nice comment on high-school-boy hygiene, there. I guess I should give the movie points for realism, anyway.
Angus: HEY! Okay…that’s maybe just a tad realistic.
At the party, kids hang out and talk. Seriously, that’s it. And this sequence…oh, I wish I could do video capture, but Angus needs to show me how. A guy kneels in front of the fridge, grabs a few cans (I guess they’re supposed to be beer, but they sure look like pop to me), then triumphantly grabs out a whole ham. The look of joy and wonder on the boy’s face at the sight of this ham made Angus and me rewind this scene four times to watch and guffaw.
Ruby: I FOUND THE HAM!
Angus: Beer and ham, that’s all the atheists need.
Ruby: So true.
Angus: This is the tamest, nicest high school drinking party ever. The music is mild and low-key, everyone is standing around and chatting.
Ruby: I always thought we might be missing something by not going to the popular kids’ parties in high school. Turns out that my 11th birthday sleepover with the watching of Father Goose and making of our own pizzas was wilder the whole time.
Doug and Randy try to talk Dan down from the whole Tamara-and-Melanie situation.
Angus: Wait a second–what the fuck is up with that wall???
(As with The Pretender, I’ll cut on here to insert my choices for Best Actors. For most of these kids (and I do love that these movies so often feature actual teenagers in the roles of teenagers, and not people pushing 30!), this was their only movie, but there are a few standouts. One is Doug, who is one of the few characters to react to everything going on around him, not just people speaking directly to him. His cautious-yet-curious expression as Melanie and Tamara fight over Dan is especially good.
Another is the girl who plays Scotty’s sister’s friend. That’s right, people, it’s time to find out…THE FATE OF SCOTTY!!!)
Dan sees Scotty’s sister and asks her to apologize to Scotty on his behalf for “missing their meeting.” She runs off in tears. Her friend confronts Dan:
Friend: You’re real scum.
Dan: Why? What’d I do?
Friend: That was Scott’s sister.
Dan: I know. I was supposed to meet Scotty after school today.
Friend: Are you on drugs? This is a pretty low joke.
Dan: What’s going on here?
Friend: You know where Scotty is, you jerk.
Dan: What’s the idea of calling me a jerk? Listen, what’s going on? Where is he?
Friend: In his grave. You know he committed suicide three months ago. Why are you doing this?
(By the way, kudos to everyone who responded with their ideas about Scotty’s fate. Many were far more interesting than the real one!)
(And, as I said above, kudos to the young actress playing the friend–a nice portrayal of calm, righteous anger.)
Angus: *scoffs* Oh, yeah, all atheists are depressed, right?
Ruby: Witness to your friends or they’ll commit suicide, pray for your parents or they’ll divorce–being a Christian is exhausting.
Bull arrives to kick Dan’s ass.
Bull: You guys go that way! I’ll meet you out front!
Angus: Damn! Tactics from Bull!
Ruby: He’s not nearly as dumb as advertised.
Angus: Bull, though equally angry, is much smarter in this alternate reality. Clearly, Dan was keeping him stupid!
A sorta-thrilling chase ensues, and Dan runs to the church for sanctuary.
And there, on the steps of the church, just as Dan is about to smell what the Bull is cookin’, everything changes back, and Dan is a believer again.
(You might expect, as I did, Dan begging God to make things right again, to parallel with George Bailey’s “I want to live again. Please, God, let me live again.” But if it happened, we couldn’t hear it, because the actor was talking very fast and slurring his words. Natural when panicked, but makes it difficult to make out any prayers.)
Muriel shows up one last time to explain everything to Dan. Again.
Muriel: Still wish you were a nonbeliever?
Angus: You jerk.
Ruby: This angel is going to kill everyone while they sleep, mark my words.
Muriel: Yes, Daniel. Everything is now back to the way it was.
Ruby: Be comforted, Daniel. Your parents are still stuck in their loveless marriage, and your awful sister is still around.
Muriel: I know you have an attraction for Tamara, Daniel. But the Lord holds relationships most sacred. … The truth is, you’d like to spend some time with Tamara because you desire some physical pleasure from her.
Ruby: And, as we all know, physical pleasure is just plain wrong.
Dan: Man, it’s like you’re seeing right through me.
Ruby and Angus: *both burst out laughing*
Ruby: Yeah, a teenager interested in sex! Who woulda thought, huh?
Muriel: Let me ask you: the girl you’d like to marry? How many other men would you like her to be intimate with before you marry her?
Dan: Well, no one.
Muriel: Then go and do likewise. Wouldn’t it be great, Daniel, to spend your life with a person who was untouched by anyone else?
Dan: Yeah, that’d be great.
Angus: Huh? How do you know it would be great to have an untouched woman, Dan? You don’t know anything about it, either way.
Ruby: Oh, please. We all know that women who have sex before marriage are filthy lady whores!
Angus: I just…I don’t see why it matters so much.
Ruby: Yeah, I think that’s why we’re not conservative Christians…
Angus: It’s all pretty unfair to Dan, too. He seemed genuinely interested in Tamara as a person, not just doing things to get into her pants.
(As we talk, Muriel blathers on about “reaching people for the Lord…”)
Muriel: People like Bull need you. He’s never heard the good news about salvation.
Angus: *snorts* Sure he hasn’t.
Ruby: Pro tip, Muriel: it is all but impossible to grow up in this country without hearing about salvation…many, many times.
Muriel: And I already told you how your prayers kept your parents together.
Angus: Oh, yeah, we almost forgot about that horrific message of guilt for children…
Muriel: And Scotty Parks? If it wasn’t for you, I think you know where he’d be right now.
Ruby: Yeah, and that horrific message, too.
Muriel: The lake of fire is real, and many people you know are heading there.
Ruby: I have more comfort for you, Daniel: When they die, Bull and Melanie and almost everyone else you know will be tortured forever for not believing.
(Finally, Muriel magics away Dan’s suspension from school, because “Mr. Millner figured out what happened.” Okay, first of all, how, and second of all, this line is inserted so quickly that Angus and I both missed it on first viewing.)
The next morning, Jenny, the little sadist, once again blasts Dan’s alarm clock in his ears. But Dan is so happy to see her that he kisses her, prompting a tweenish “Ewwwwwww!” from little Jenny.
Angus: *laughs* He’s finally found a way to keep that little monster at bay!
Ruby: He should kiss her every morning until he leaves for college. She won’t come within fifty feet of him for the next two years. Victory!
Then Dan heads for school, where he gets all fired up for the Lord and the movie they’re showing, basically muscles Doug into coming to see the flick, then asks out Vickie. (Well, he invited her to come hear all the stuff the Lord has been telling him. Hot.
And there’s Scotty! Not dead! And the movie ends…
This one little line has spawned a bit of a cult following, and variations on the theme…
Coming soon…on to more Soon!