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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I've got a fever. And the only prescription is more "Teen Wolf."

I usually spend my days -- without much luck, of course -- looking for excuses to write about one of the greatest cheeseball comedies of all-time, "Teen Wolf."

Today, my friends, that search is over.

EW.com is reporting that MTV plans to produce a "Teen Wolf" pilot, a move presumably fueled by the recent "Twilight" fad that has turned mythological oddities like vampires into sexy cash cows.

Yet instead of focusing on awesome knee-high socks and sweet scoop layups that would make Magic Johnson jealous, MTV will apparently explore the darker side of teen werewolves with its planned small screen production -- or as one of the show's creators told the Hollywood Reporter, give it "an 'American Werewolf in London' feel."

Now, usually I'd just go with the tried-and-true "all remakes suck" argument here. But this really has disaster written all over it.

Everyone knows you can't revamp "Teen Wolf." And god knows you can't take it seriously. It's the perfect blend of cheese and extra cheese. And hair. Lots and lots of hair.

Having watched "Teen Wolf" about 8,000 times since I was a kid, this is one of the few things I'm qualified to speak about.

Released in 1985 at the height of Michael J. Fox's fame, the original "Teen Wolf" already has memorable, never-to-be-duplicated characters like Stiles, Boof, Chubbs and the inspirational quote machine known as Coach Finstock. It has that hot '80s chick who didn't do anything notable following her tantalizing turn as theatrical seductress/hairy back fetishist, Pamela Wells. It also has an oddly gripping emotional resonance by transforming a modest, mild-mannered teenager into a freakish werewolf with prodigious basketball skills -- leading to the charming, totally relatable metaphor about gaining high school social acceptance via ballhog-fueled dominance.

While this is all self-explanatory to the avid "Teen Wolf" viewer, there may be a bright side to all this re-make nonsense.

Sniveling teenagers who spend their days watching "My Super Sweet 16" or thinking that Rev. Run's daughters are honest-to-God celebrities will FINALLY be exposed to some timeless cornball art from an era when MTV actually played music videos. After all, the final basketball scene in "Teen Wolf" -- one that been lauded by some critics (namely, me) -- as one of the most re-watchable movie sequences in history will now officially be shared with future generations.

Truly, it has everything you could possibly want in a dramatic closing scene. There's Mick, the sneering, Zabka-like villain who delivers on-court clotheslines like he was the Bill Laimbeer of high school sports. There's Scotty, the cocksure, quip-happy underachiever who plays a rocket-fueled David delivering scintillating jump free throws like so many slingshot rocks to Goliath's forehead.

It also features Chubbs' patented sky hook, riotous crowd reaction shots that place you in the epicenter of "Wolfmania" and the same blocked shot by No. 45 (a young Brian Scalabrine, perhaps?) shown 800 times, followed by the same behind the back pass from our beloved whirling dervish, "Muggsy" Howard.

And finally, MOST IMPORTANTLY, it features the triumphant '80s movie anthem, "Win in the End," sweetly strumming and guiding this beautiful basketball ballet between the longshot Beavers and dreaded Dragons.



What follows that clip, however, has haunted me as an adult -- so much so, that in many ways it brings "Teen Wolf" to a "Saved by the Bell"-like level of untouchable wonder and amusement.

Following Mick's unsuccessful game of cat and mouse with Scotty, our humble hero is allowed to shoot the game-winning free throws and officially assume the throne as the greatest lupine basketball player in the history of high school sports. Yet in stupefying fashion, Mick is allowed by the officials to stand DIRECTLY UNDERNEATH THE BASKET so he can stare and taunt Howard as he tries to win the game.

But Scotty doesn't blink. Scotty. Doesn't. Blink.

Now, why would anyone tamper with this pristine legacy?



Ahem.

Yeah, so clearly anything is up for grabs these days. And why fight the economic realities of a slumping, creatively bankrupt TV industry? I say crank up the Wolfmobile!

I may just put on my car surfing shoes after all.

And just in case there are any '80s music buffs (like me) in the house, take a peek at this relic from Alphaville and tell me "Win in the End" didn't pilfer its hooks from "Big in Japan." C'mon! Even Ray Parker Jr. would have had an easier time convincing Huey Lewis that "Ghostbusters" didn't steal directly from "I Want a New Drug."



-- Thomas Rozwadowski, trozwado@greenbaypressgazette.com

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2 Comments:

Scariest thing about this "Teen Wolf" post? Not only did you reference Huey Lewis and Ray Parker Jr., but you did it in a way that reveals a clear understanding of the validity of the song comparison. All in one sentence. Shudder!

By Anonymous Speck, At September 2, 2009 at 6:53 PM  

Not one of my better moments, but I SAW Teen Wolf Too in the theater.

By Blogger Antony, At September 4, 2009 at 3:52 PM  

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