The teen flick is the black hole of Hollywood. It swallows up rising actors and directors alike. It entices the young and the old past its inescapable event horizon, forever hungering after fresh blood. The body count is staggering.
Consider Francis Ford Coppola. After masterminding such irrefutable classics as The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, and the Godfather sagas, he boldly tackled the teen genre with The Outsiders – and just as boldly fell on his face. Standing again on his own two feet, he summarily slapped the dust off his breeches and proceeded to trip over Rumble Fish (a.k.a. The Godson). Though his second jaunt into the world of adolescent angst was a dangerously moody piece with moments of heartrending beauty, it lacked the consistent genius of his earlier works.
But where Coppola has, for the most part, survived his fall from grace, lesser mortals have been far less fortunate.
Consider Richard Tuggle. After appearing out of nowhere to script Clint Eastwood’s Escape from Alcatraz – his first film, mind you – he quickly went on to both write and direct Tightrope, one of Eastwood’s finest films.
Word spreads quicker through Hollywood than brushfire through the desert, and the word was out: Richard Tuggle is hot.
But “hot” is a relative term. In an industry where accounting statements are long and memories short, you’re only as hot as your last film. After Out of Bounds, Richard Tuggle is about as hot as a political prisoner in a Siberian gulag.
His problems begin with his choice of material. After scripting his first two features himself, he is here working from a screenplay by Tony Kayden, a veteran TV Movie-of-the-Week writer with credits like Fugitive Family and Ambush Murders. The story concerns a midwestern hick (Anthony Michael Hall of Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club) who comes to the big city (Los Angeles) and winds up on the run after being accused of a crime he didn’t commit (his brother’s murder). It’s chock-a-block with hand-me-down plotting and moronic dialog meant to convince us that Hall is truly a midwestern hick and co-star Jenny Wright (St. Elmo’s Fire) is truly an urban punk rocker.
Having not written this tripe himself, Tuggle struggles in foreign territory. The direction is limp throughout, as if he couldn’t care less.
The end of the film is downright sloppy. One sequence is particularly incongruous – after spending nearly the entire film tracking down Hall on suspicion of murder, Police Lieutenant Delgado (Glynn Turman) commits a sudden about-face by stating that Hall is now “out there on his own” and needs their help. But it isn’t until the next scene that Delgado gets the evidence proving Hall’s innocence.
It seems someone fell asleep in the editing room.
Out of Bounds is slipshod filmmaking at its worse. Watching Tuggle fall into the miasma of teen flicks – after showing such great promise with Tightrope – is not a pleasant experience.
Though Hollywood film directors are not known for their ascetism (there’s no Saint Francis of Azusa) one certainly wishes Tuggle had striven for art and left his pocketbook behind. He gets to pay the bills with this one, no doubt, but forgets to pay attention – to his audience or his craft.
Bottom line: If you’re in the mood for intelligent entertainment, Out of Bounds is out of the question.