Teen Wolf (1985)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Teen Wolf</strong> (1985)

(On Cable TV, February 2019) I don’t think anyone ever expected much from Teen Wolf, whether during its production, initial release or long afterlife since then. But sometimes you just need a spark to make it work, and Michael J. Fox was clearly the ingredient needed in this sometimes silly but rarely dull teen horror comedy take on werewolf movies. Fortunately, the script is not bad: clearly written with some awareness of the genre, the film zig-zags a few familiar tropes and has at least three mild surprises (the father knows; the secret comes out; the crush doesn’t want him) contradicting where we think the story is going, and earning a few laughs along the way at some blatant revelations. The way it fully engages with its premise is almost refreshing even now, and I suspect that much of the film is simply about seeing a werewolf playing high-school basketball. The “Teen” of the title is equally important as Teen Wolf seems very comfortable in the halls of an American High School. There are quite a few teenage anxieties hidden in its premise (what if your alter ego was more popular than the real you?) even despite a plot that’s more straightforward than it appears. But then again Teen Wolf is far better in the fun and games of its premise than it is at the narrative heavy lifting: even if it gets bogged into the mechanics of its climactic basketball game, it’s lighthearted most of the time, and unafraid to be silly even when it doesn’t have to be.

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