Friday, January 30, 2015
The Ballad of Buddy Revell
Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Thursday night, Izzy & I watched the 80’s high school comedy classic “Three O’Clock High” filmed at the beautiful Ogden High School (though called Weaver High in the movie) about two blocks from where I grew up when it was made in 1987. Yes, I remember movie crews being there & driving by on Harrison Boulevard as a young boy. Basically the story is about a nerdy kid Jerry Mitchell (Casey Siemaszko aka 3-D in the “Back to the Future” movies) who gets in trouble with the new bully at school Buddy Revell (Richard Tyson aka poor man’s giant Val Kilmer) who challenges him to a fight at 3 o’clock when class is over… so being a nerdy puss, he tries to get out of it. Pretty simple premise, right? That being said… it’s actually a fairly decent comedy for the 80’s so I highly recommend checking it out. There’s also some great cameos from Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Philip Baker Hall, Jeffrey Tambor, Paul Feig (director of “Bridesmaids” and the potentially horrible “Ghostbusters 3”) and Mitch Pileggi (Skinner from “X-Files”). Again, check it out for your 80’s fix. The thing that always got me about the movie… yes, even as a child… was the “bully” Buddy Revell. So I’m going to go a little more in-depth into the plot so you know my issue. Okay, so Jerry is with the school newspaper (not dated at all) and he’s given the assignment to interview the new kid Buddy, who apparently is rumored to have killed and/or maimed students, teachers & police officers at his past school. This implies that… I don’t know… certain precautions should be taken in handling this interview. Well, a few scenes later, Jerry is utilizing the urinal… when stone-faced Buddy saddles up to a urinal next time him… and Jerry breaks the first rule of Guy Code… he tries to start a conversation with Buddy right there while he’s taking a leak… Jerry even turned to face him after he’s wrapped up his business. Buddy is still peeing… and after inquiring on Jerry’s sexuality given the current circumstances (happens a few times this movie, and kind of appropriately too), proceeds to tell Jerry that he doesn’t want people to know about him. Basically, Buddy pulls a Marshawn Lynch on Jerry… but explains it better. Yet Jerry PERSISTS!!! “I want you to understand something, Jerry. I don't like people knowing about me, in fact I don't like it when ANYONE knows about me. So you can take that paper of yours and wipe off your dick with it! You made me mad, Jerry... now I'm gunna have to do something to work it off.” Which I always kinda thought meant Buddy was gonna go do some pushups or jerk-off or something (he’s a teenage boy). Then… immediately after all of this, Jerry smiles, and in a buddy-buddy gesture puts his hand on Buddy’s shoulder. Now, the implication in movie is something like “OH MY GOD!!! HE JUST TOUCHED THE BULLY!!!” but honestly… what Jerry did… and just put his unwashed possibly piss-covered hand on Buddy’s well-worn leather jacket (possibly his dead father’s jacket, you don’t know) and basically wipes his hand off on it. Now, does Buddy overreact a little bit by picking up Jerry and throwing him against the bathroom window & challenging him to a gentlemen’s duel with proper notification? Possibly. Again we don’t know enough about Buddy at this time to know what he’s going through… but violence is rarely the answer. Alternatively, he could’ve just beat his ass right then & there. However, you can kind of see where there’s a potential conflict between the two. “I don’t do interviews. I’m an isolated soul. Leave me alone. I’m just taking a leak.” “Oh come on, Buddy. Please? Here, let me wipe my dick drizzle on your jacket.” “What the F**K???”
This leads me to the Buddy Revell character, who I think is the real star & the movie’s rarely explored best feature. Sure, Jerry has “coming of age” moments where he finally kisses one of his best friends (and I think turns her lesbian with one kiss based on her reaction?), makes a pass at his surprisingly hot, possibly Irish teacher (and succeeds), STEALS $450 FROM THE SCHOOL STORE TO HIRE A HITMAN & TECHNICALLY DOESN’T RETURN IT (that’s f**king theft any way you look at it), and ultimately stands up to this Goliath of a bully instead of retreating (only after many, many failed attempts to imprison and/or expel Buddy for absolutely no reason mind you)… but let’s look at this movie through the eyes of its true star. Now, I don’t know Buddy Revell’s backstory… and I’m okay with that. He’s like Smith from “Shoot ‘Em Up” or any of those iconic figures that are usually the protagonist. He’s an unknown. What happened before the credits started up? No idea… there’s some hearsay exposition thrown out by students… but that’s hardly anything to go on. All we know is that he’s showing up at a new school… and potentially just trying to start a new life, turn a new leaf, just get used to his new surroundings. He could potentially be a cold-hearted killer who is only out of prison because he’s technically a minor. He could have a horrible home life with an abusive alcoholic stepfather who’s beaten him for years while his stripper mother earns what little money she can while they’re waiting for that settlement check, a la that Rob Zombie “Halloween” reboot. Maybe his father was a decent, hard-working mechanic who died tragically in a house fire recently… so his mother & he had to move… and the only thing that he really had to remember him was his jacket that he had left in the car. He could be an honor student who just had to move schools like in “The New Guy”. Later in the movie, he proves that he’s not just a lumbering oaf, but that he’s pretty handle with at least basic algebra when put on the spot… so he’s no slouch in the brains department.
Regardless, it’s his first day at school, there are rumors circling around about him, and he just wants to get through class, maybe learn something & get an education at this beautiful new school. Eventually maybe he’ll warm up to those around him… but it’s the first day, he’s got enough on his already weary mind. During first period, that cup of orange juice he had for breakfast starts to kick in… and he has to use the restroom. Insert the scene above where some guy just won’t let him take a piss in peace… and he sees it as a veritable challenge. He’s surprisingly calm in his explanation of the events that will take place. Why? Has he done this before? Is it part of his Man Code instilled on him by his father? Who was just disrespected by Jerry wiping his f**king piss hand off on his father’s beaten jacket? There’s a momentary lapse when he resorts to violence… and then he remembers the lessons of his father - “Don’t act violently out of Passion. Take some time. Think it through. Make a plan. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Hopefully there will be a resolution that comes from it in the end.” Then, he lays out the groundwork. 3 PM, seven hours or so from now, we will duel, settle it like gentlemen. Just you and me. Prepare yourself, Gerald Evelyn Mitchell (I’m assuming that’s Jerry’s real full name). Of course, the exact wording is something like “You and me, we're gonna have a fight. Today. After school. Three o'clock. In the parking lot. You try and run, I'm gonna track you down. You go to a teacher, it's only gonna get worse. You sneak home, I'm gonna be under your bed.” Slightly more aggressive... but still dignified nonetheless.
There’s a few scenes where Jerry tries to call off the fight with Buddy at his locker… and they’re surrounded by other students, waiting for his response. Again, he’s just trying to go to school & bought some time to cool off. He’ll probably even forget about Jerry unknowingly disrespecting him by wiping him with his piss hand & hitting on him in the bathroom. I mean… he knows he’s attractive. Well, it’s right in front of everybody… and so he can’t just back down with everybody watching… so the fight’s still on… for now. What does Jerry do? Well, he asks his friends for help. Not a bad start… except his friend’s idea is to plant a weapon in Buddy’s locker & get him expelled… without telling Jerry until it’s pretty much too late. The only thing is… from Buddy’s perspective… Jerry just planted a f**king switchblade in his locker to try to get him expelled… and probably like a punk at his last school will say something afterwards to all his friends like “Yeah, that Buddy what’s-his-name was too scared to fight me man-to-man! He even tried to bring a switchblade to even the score! F**king pussy!” Say what you will, it infuriates a man to know that there are assholes out there like that in the world… and they do exist. Sh*t, you probably know several of them! Anyway, that plan is thwarted… and you can kind of see why Buddy REALLY wouldn’t mind beating the sh*t outta this twerp… but still, he doesn’t really do anything. He’s still contemplating the idea of just… letting it go. Maybe. Not likely… but possible. He DID just try to get you kicked out of school on your first day…
Later, we find out even more about Buddy. He’s a man of a certaiBUDDY WAS JUST READING IN THE F**KING LIBRARY WHEN JERRY SENT HIRED MUSCLE. Buddy dispatches of the situation accordingly. See, he now knows that Jerry apparently has the means to send hired goons to dispatch of him. This time it’s one, but there’s possibly more on the way. Buddy doesn’t know Jerry other than he wears a f**king sweater& is possibly a closeted homosexual just when AIDS is becoming a major thing. Jerry could have limitless funds & not a lot of time on this Earth. He is pretty pasty… wait, no… he would’ve totally played the “You can’t fight me. If you do, my blood will infect you & everybody within earshot” (as was the understanding at the time) so no AIDS. Still, potentially limitless funds… and a life of ridicule at the very least? This assailant must be made into an example… otherwise there could be more, MANY MORE. So he breaks the guy’s finger, restructures his face with one punch, and then sends him flying into bookshelves causing quite the scene… maybe even more than expected. Then in an absolutely WWF (it’s 1987) style of exhibition, calmly stares down his attacker, puts his BLOODY index finger vertically to his lips and whispers “ssssssh.” Drop mic… walk off stage… message transmitted.
Later on, Jerry tries to just outright pay Buddy $350 to not destroy him at 3 o’clock. Buddy is at first perplexed. He’s a man whose integrity can’t be bought… but he & his family could really use the money… and he just got accepted at Brown… and Ivy League schools aren’t cheap (F**k you, I’m filling in my own backstory). He denies Jerry, the fight stands, but Jerry persists… so now it’s moral decision time. There are other variables too though. It’s his first day… and everybody at school knows that this fight is going down now… so if it were to be called off, then what? All of Buddy’s credibility as a Man goes out the window… or at least a good part of it. That stoic persona of a man not to be trifled with… gone. The man who can’t be bought… will have named his price. Other challengers will come… and would Buddy take a dive for the right price so that some other kid can get credibility? It’s a slippery slope. Right now, he’s a tall, handsome man of mystery… and chicks dig that sh*t. There was that obviously mid-20’s blonde “student” that was kinda hitting on him earlier & invited him to her party this weekend (yes, the same one that she invited Jerry too, probably hoping for a rematch) but that’s the same night he’s supposed to watch Nana while Mom goes to work. There’s also that surprisingly hot redheaded teacher who was giving him the “f**k me eyes” earlier… and plenty more women that would obviously be all over his sh*t within a week’s time… unless he proves himself to be some sort of typical brute… and then maybe those horrible rumors are true. He doesn’t want to have to be the Bad Boy and only mess with damaged goods. On the other hand, there’s the other side. If he accepts this money that his family so desperately needs, they could have gas & groceries for like six months (again, 1987?) and best of all, the whole violent act could be averted. He’s obviously superior to Jerry in just about every way as the day’s events have proven… so what’s the real point of destroying him? It’s a lose-lose situation. Again, he would be seen as a savage brute for destroying this pip squeak… or worse yet, he could somehow lose & forever become a pariah of the schoolyard. Let’s not forget, that in his eyes JERRY PLANTED A KNIFE IN HIS LOCKER TO GET HIM EXPELLED EARLIER IN THE DAY. He may be absolutely desperate… and do something rash like bring brass knuckles… or a gun! So what’s he to do? He’s in a no-win situation… so he does the lesser of two evils… and takes the $350… but not before making an attempt to help Jerry learn a lesson in the whole ordeal… in one of the greatest moments in cinema history. “You know what, Mitchell? You're the biggest PUSSY I've ever seen in my life. You didn't even try. How does that feel?” It’s both a calling out of Jerry’s moral ambiguity, lack of self-confidence & using money as an answer for everything… as well as a note of longing for knowledge of how somebody can be so comfortable with themselves for making the decisions that Jerry has throughout that day. Buddy may seriously be wondering “How does that feel? How can I find peace within myself in this twisted social experiment of high school? You’re obviously a horrible, manipulative human being (again in his eyes) and yet… here you are, pretty much at peace with your decisions. I want to know how that’s possible? How can you call yourself a Man?” Jerry doesn’t answer… maybe he doesn’t have any answers to give… so Buddy walks away with the money, contemplating his own decisions throughout the day… and questioning his father’s teachings & his own moral code. It’s an insanely deep moment… and no, I haven’t been drinking. I’m also assuming that Buddy has seen a LOT of big pussies in his day… but on ladies.
Well, as luck would have it, Jerry did think over the lesson that Buddy was trying to teach him… and becomes enraged… so while Buddy is going on with his day, putting the recent disagreement behind him & moving on with his life, Jerry confronts him at his locker and says that the fight is still on! He even punches a locker as he leaves! Jerry has grown a backbone! However, now this puts Buddy back in a worst-case scenario. Not only has he accepted $350 to break his moral code… but now he’s made this psychopath who has already tried to destroy this man’s character repeatedly… but now accepting the money has done nothing towards avoiding violence. The fight that he can only lose will continue… OH SH*T!!! JERRY HAD A SWITCHBLADE!!! He tried to plant it on me earlier today… so I know he has it… and he probably knows that I’d destroy him physically… so the only way would be to cheat & bring the knife! Sh*t… I’d better take my brass knuckles (I assume that he’s had for his own protection since the incident in his old neighborhood where he saved a girl from being raped by a bunch of guys… who had brass knuckles, those things aren’t a f**king joke, they DESTROY faces, ribs & lives). Anyway, that’s why he brings the brass knuckles for the big fight at the end… so don’t even get me started on that. So then… Buddy goes to his execution… and just hopes that he doesn’t kill Jerry accidentally & never see the light of day again. What a f**ked-up first day of school!
Now for the final fight… they’re both there (as well as the ENTIRE student body). FINALLY the school administration does SOMETHING about ANYTHING to do with this situation (the school seems like it’s 2015 in that respect) and the principal steps up and says that there’ll be no fight… move along… nothing to see here! Thank God, the principal has stepped in… but Buddy still has to be tough & stoic to maintain that mysterious element lest others challenge him at a later date, so he acts like he wants the fight to continue knowing that surely an adult will separate them. Then the principal… wait for it…touches Buddy’s jacket… his father’s jacket… and Buddy had seen him cough phlegm directly into it not 45 seconds earlier as he came through the sea of students surrounding them on this Island of Manhood. He’s wiping snot on his father’s jacket… and then things get RED!!! Buddy loses it!!! This entire day has built up to this release!!! Vengeance takes control!!! Punching the principal, tossing women off with fierce shoves, assaulting police officers, leaving grown ass men in his wake… and then he sees the reason for all of this… Jerry Mitchell!!! I’m assuming Buddy can’t even tell you what happens after that… until he regains consciousness after being right hooked in the head with a brass knuckle fist… all red… then lights out & wakes up during the confusion of Jerry’s victory in the fight… and F**KING DISAPPEARS LIKE A NINJA before the police can presumably take HIM into custody! Jerry gets no punishment for this fight!
You may be saying to yourself, “$teve, you’re f**king insane!!!” There is absolutely no way that ANY of this is true. Your backstory is assumed, you know nothing really about his character or moral code… because he is just a ball of mystery… but presumably a big bad mother f**ker… I mean… the kids at school know what’s up so everything they said at the beginning of the movie must be true… and Buddy did have a few brief moments of violent fury. He’s OBVIOUSLY just a big bully in every sense of the (constantly redefining) word. To that, I bring to your attention the end of the movie. So Jerry wins the fight… and should be getting in some serious sh*t for getting in the fight AND STEALING $450 FROM THE SCHOOL STORE!!! There’s a whole bullsh*t scene where the other students basically pay a dollar for each piece of paper to help repay the $450… and then… Buddy Revell, who is on the lam & has somehow escaped the police and everybody else, returns to confront Jerry… in front of the entire school… and returns the $350 that he was given… thus completing his full character arc. He’s learned the lesson that his angry nature will get the best of him… Jerry has at least started to learn to become a Man… he’s repaid the penitence on his Soul AND assisted a possible new friend in the process… and in that gesture, he has borne a little of his own Soul upon the rest of the student body… and shown a softer side to his gruff exterior… so basically an avalanche of jailbait pussy is going to wash over him as soon as (more like IF) he gets out of juvenile hall for assaulting a police officer & all that jazz. As the credits roll, the high school kids start up with their nonsense & embellishment of the events that happened that day… and you see the whole story coming full circle… and $teve’s theories of Buddy Revell being just another new (26-year old?) kid at school BEING ABSOLUTELY CONFIRMED!!! Let’s be honest though… we were all kinda surprised that Jerry didn’t serve any time for his involvement in the events of that day, right? Oh what’s that? You haven’t seen the movie? Well, I think you just did through the eyes of its REAL main character… and for that, you’re welcome! Now go check it out for yourself in the version that everybody else seems to see… a tortured, tragic, conflicted enigma wrapped in an incredibly complex performance by Sir Richard Tyson.
Now, you may also be asking yourself if I’m sympathizing with the “bully” in this story for some reason. Obviously I’m a Man of above average size, athleticism, intelligence & self-confidence now. Was I always that way? Pretty much… the confidence waned a little in high school years… but yeah, I’ve always been big. So was I a bully then? Is that why I’ve always looked at the story through his eyes? No. Never actually. Well… I mean… being a large man certainly has its advantages in avoiding certain confrontational situations, no doubt. But no, I was never a bully & used that influence on others for any kind of real gain. No, it’s more that I can empathize with the new kid in school… and I try to empathize with most other people whenever a situation comes up where there’s conflict. Even in Bond movies I’m like “Why does that guy want to destroy the world? Money? Just because? Why does he not long for this world anymore? Also, why doesn’t he just cap him in the f**king head & call it a night? That’s just sloppy! He’s OBVIOUSLY just insane!” But yeah, it’s not a bad practice. I highly recommend it. Even if it’s some ass-hat who’s cutting you off in traffic. Are they in a hurry to get somewhere? Are they just being a douche? Or is just that they see themselves in invulnerable in their vehicle? Certainly they wouldn’t just push their way through a crowded subway like they’re trying to do in their car… because they’d be b**ch slapped by somebody bigger enforcing the societal code… yet while in their car… the only person who would even think of doing that is the police… and f**k it, there’s no money in it for them, right? Anyway, just a way that I enjoy this movie on a level different from most. I suggest that you watch… and then watch it again from the other side. It’s actually quite good in that regard.
Have a great weekend everybody!!! BUDDY REVELL RULES!!!