Betsy Russell, Kristi Somers. Directed by Herbert Freed.
I’m not proud of having watched this, but in my years-long quest to see movies I wanted to watch but didn’t get to when I was a kid, there are going to be at least a few films that appealed to my baser instincts. Those instincts are still there, stronger in my memory than in my current, diminished-libido reality, and in some ways, I’m glad I crossed this one off my list, and I look forward to crossing off several more.
You’ve probably seen Betsy Russell before: she was the topless horseback rider in Private School (the Phoebe Cates film), and so when you see her name first on the movie poster, you kind of know why you’re paying to see the movie. She’s going to take her shirt off, and it’s going to be glorious, although she’s been in five of the Saw movies, and I don’t think this is true of those films. In any case, hats off to her for the length of her career. She’s earned any success she has.
In Tomboy, which may be her only starring vehicle, Russell plays Tommy, a mechanic who plays basketball with the boys, rides her dirt bike with the boys, and fixes cars better than any of the boys. She may be a tomboy in her interests, but she’s still a woman, and when she meets the race car driver whose poster decorates her garage, she gets pretty star-struck. She and her best friend Seville get invited to a party with the driver and the owner of his car, and a romance is born. But it becomes clear that to her new boyfriend, she’s a good driver and mechanic “for a girl,” and this doesn’t sit well with her. So of course, a race is arranged: Tommy driving her car, and her boyfriend driving his.
This is a terrible movie in which nobody behaves like a real person with any brains, but there are a few decent laughs. Seville wins a job as a spokesperson for a doughnut shop, and she’s paid in doughnuts rather than cash. The image of her convertible loaded with doughnut boxes is visually funny. Come to think of it, that might be the only laugh. Oh well.