film reel image

film reel image

Thursday, July 6, 2023

My Bodyguard 1980 * * 1/2 Stars


Filmed in 1979 and released in 1980, My Bodyguard is an absolute snapshot of 70s, high school oddments. I mean you can smell the gym socks, picture in your head the long greasy hair, and envision some teen lighting up a square in a public domain. My Bodyguard is also about the bullying and that wayward behavior that so inhabited the tail end of "have a nice day". Chicago is the backdrop, Dave Grusin does the Afterschool Special-type music, and look there's the late John Houseman in a nanosecond cameo. "They're just some kids from school, they wanna kill me". Ouch.

Anyway, My Bodyguard stars Matt Dillon and Chris Makepeace, actors that have faces so synonymous with late seventies/early eighties swipe. I mean it made sense for director Tony Bill to cast them what with Dillon fresh from Over the Edge and Makepeace coming off of Meatballs fame. They are the perfect foil cause let's be real, back then no one could channel an oppressive creep quite like Matt Dillon and no one could channel sunny awkwardness quite like Chris Makepeace. It's just a shame that My Bodyguard at 96 minutes only probes their strong-arm, back and forth in broad strokes. Let me explain.

As a film about a boy (Makepeace as Clifford) who hires a high school classmate (Adam Baldwin as Linderman) as his bodyguard because he is being targeted by a slickster bully (Dillon as Moody), My Bodyguard feels patchy and somewhat fragmentary. Yes there are some poignant moments, yes the acting is sufficient, and yes, there is a bit of irony (another defender comes into the mix). But the movie lacks depth when the subject of "Me Decade" persecution was so germane and so there for the taking. I mean I wanted more bullying (I know, weird statement), I wanted to know more about the friendship between bodyguard and the protected, and I wanted to know what the heck was up with the Ruth Gordon character (don't ask, just know that she's the grandmother of the protected). That would have made "my" day.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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