It’s the first day of senior year at a prestigious boarding school. Two boys: Jonathan, the new kid from a working-class background, and Skip, his more experienced blueblood roommate stand in a dormitory doorway dressed in women’s underwear. Skip has convinced Jonathan this is a first day of senior year tradition just before tricking him into stepping out alone on campus as the fool who fell for a prank. Thus begins the 80’s teen sex farce, “Class,” (1983) staring Andrew McCarthy, Rob Lowe, and Jacqueline Bisset, featured December (2021) on MGM HD.
Despite that hazing ritual, the two boys become fast friends with the more worldly Skip taking the bookish and naïve Jonathan under his wing. Jonathan helps Skip with his classwork while Skip helps Jonathan with his social life. For the first part of “Class,” the two tour the great hallmarks of the teen comedy genre; double dating in Skip’s Porsche, partying in the dorms, and generally sticking it to authority in the pursuit of a good time. They’re joined in their hijinks by actors who would become cinematic staples during the era of popped-collar polo shirts including John Cusack, Virginia Madsen, Alan Ruck, and Casey Siemaszko.
However, when Skip gives Jonathan a hundred dollars and sends him to the city encouraging him become a man, the movie takes a turn for the more heartfelt. Jonathan meets a sexually aggressive older woman named Ellen (Jacqueline Bisset) in a bar. What begins as a mere one-night stand quickly blossoms into a deeper romantic relationship. The two find in each other something exciting and fulfilling; Jonathan finds self-confidence and Ellen finds someone who values her for the experience she has to offer. When Ellen finds out the truth, that Jonathan is only a high school senior, she abruptly breaks off the relationship, exiling Jonathan back to boarding school life and the fratty camaraderie of his friends. That is until he discovers that Ellen is his best friend Skip’s mother.
At that point, “Class” aspires to be something more than a mere teensploitation flick. The two boys are confronted with the complications of love, friendship, and the mysteries of the adulthood upon which they are on the threshold of entering. The boys wrestle with their emotions and contemporary expectations of masculinity.
“Class” is anchored by fine early performances by Rob Lowe and Andrew McCarthy. Lowe’s easy charm is on full display, and he gets a chance to show off the comedic chops that has become so important in his later career. McCarthy puts in a performance that showcases his intelligence and intensity. Bisset, obviously cast for her beauty, portrays Ellen with sensitivity, intelligence and longing.
Make no mistake, “Class” is a comedy with many of the goofy pleasures, and sometimes questionable decision making, typical of the 80’s teen comedy genre. But it also has a little more on its mind than other offerings of the era.
So, sign up for “Class,” featured December (2021) on MGM HD.