It's been a few years, but rebellion is back on the big screen.
Three current films--"Lost in America," "Desperately Seeking Susan" and "Almost You"--feature young marrieds disillusioned with upward mobility and infected with a radical desire to be (gasp) . . . irresponsible .
Meet pop culture's new rebel--the yuppie.
Albert Brooks, writer/director/star of "Lost in America," is the archetypal New Rebel. A high-powered advertising executive, Brooks tires of his quest for the bigger job, the bigger car, the bigger house and takes to the road in a Winnebago (complete with microwave oven).
"Desperately Seeking Susan's" Rosanna Arquette, bored with life as a New Jersey housewife, becomes obsessed with a voluptuous urban bohemian (Madonna). Uptown Griffin Dunne in "Almost You," tired of his marriage and his management job, takes after a downtown physical therapist living with a struggling actor.
Yuppie values and life styles take a beating in all three films. A fitness-conscious woman criticizes Arquette's husband for eating to calm his nerves when he should "take Valium like a normal person." Madonna discovers Arquette's diary and proclaims, "Nobody's life could be this boring. It must be a cover."
Rebellion in these films is a vague, often nostalgic yearning. Brooks drives out of Los Angeles to the tune of "Born to be Wild," reminiscing about "Easy Rider" and dreaming of "touching Indians."
"It's very possible that the guy never even saw 'Easy Rider,' " says Brooks, who attributes the three current films to an emerging generation of "baby boom" film makers. "Our subject matter is either losing your job or getting your job," he adds. "You certainly won't see anyone taking acid any more in the movies. The only acid they worry about is how much to put in the pool."
Judging from the endings of these films, a new counterculture isn't quite yet at hand. Brooks and his wife lose their precious nest egg in Las Vegas, make aborted flings at menial labor and Winnebago to Manhattan to rejoin the rat race. Griffin Dunne gives up on the physical therapist and returns to his wife, returning the social geography of Manhattan to its natural state.
"Desperately Seeking Susan" has a bolder ending. Arquette opts for a punkish New York projectionist (Aidan Quinn), leaving her unlamented husband behind in unlamented New Jersey.
Whether cultural restlessness makes the jump from these personal, modestly budgeted movies to higher-profile films remains to be seen. Are the baby boom film makers tapping into an unspoken disillusionment among the yuppie generation? "It's there, just dormant," says Brooks. "Like a tumor."
GOONIES UPDATE: Don't look for Cyndi Lauper in New World's coming "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"--the title was licensed from songwriter Robert Hazard over Lauper's opposition--but she left a big mark last week on the Steven Spielberg production "Goonies."
"She's Judy Holliday, she's Barbra Streisand, she's Bette Midler," enthuses "Goonies" director Richard Donner, who directed Lauper in two music videos shot for her "Goonies" theme song.
The videos follow Lauper and seven Goonies--kids from the wrong side of the tracks, an area known as the Goon Docks--being chased on a treasure hunt by pirates. Recurring faces from Lauper's videos include Cyndi's mother, playing herself, pro wrestler Lou Albano as Cyndi's father, and other celebrity wrestlers as pirates.
The first video, scheduled to debut May 7, ends in a cliffhanger. The second, debuting after the film's June 7 release, completes the story with several visual elements that Spielberg wanted kept under wraps until the film had opened, according to Donner. "Goonies" will be Donner's second film of '85: the fantasy "Ladyhawke" opens April 12.
SANTA'S BACK: "Silent Night, Deadly Night," the Santa Claus slasher film that caused such a ruckus last Christmas, will be returning to theaters--just a little late for Easter.
Aquarius Film Releasing is planning a May 3 release for the film, according to producer Ira Barmak. He made a deal with Aquarius after reacquiring rights to the film from Tri-Star Pictures. The studio pulled "Silent Night" from theaters in the Midwest and Northeast after public protests against TV ads showing an ax-wielding man in a Santa Claus suit.
"Some people were sensitive (about the movie) and some people saw it as a sendup," Barmak says. "The only problem was the studio's mistake in airing the (ad) on television at an early hour."
Barmak said he is advising Aquarius to stay off the tube and stick to radio and newspaper ads.
EXIT ANNIE: Ray Stark's long-planned sequel to "Annie" is apparently no more. The latest incarnation, slated to shoot this spring under writer-director Bobby Roth ("Heartbreakers"), has been canceled by Rastar Prods.
The "Annie" sequel generated little enthusiasm during its tenure at two studios, first Columbia Pictures and then Tri-Star Pictures. There was talk of financing from a new partnership between Stark and cable mogul Ted Turner, but the talk apparently wasn't firm enough to save "Annie's" neck.
BOX OFFICE: "Police Academy 2" rolled up the new year's biggest opening weekend gross with receipts of $10.7 million. Moviegoers appeared undeterred by vilifying reviews, which appeared a day later than usual because Warner Bros. declined to pre-screen the film.
"Mask" racked up $4.8 million for second place. "Amadeus" grossed $2 million, a 43% increase--significant, but not earthshaking--over its pre-Oscar performance.