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MOVIE REVIEW : 'My Boyfriend's Back': Buried in Sunny Sitcom Jauntiness

August 06, 1993|KEVIN THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"My Boyfriend's Back" (citywide), an awful teen horror comedy, hits a new low in high concepts: a 17-year-old (Andrew Lowery) wants to take the girl (Traci Lind) of his dreams to the big prom so badly that not even death will stop him. It's a premise that calls for pitch-dark satire to have a prayer of succeeding, but instead has a disastrous tone of sunny sitcom jauntiness. It also needs to proceed with the unrelenting force of airtight logic but instead rambles from one implausibility to the next, annihilating any possibility for sustained laughter. As written by Dean Lorey and directed by Bob Balaban, the film never rises above the level of double-entendre humor regarding the eating of human flesh.

Lowery's Johnny is a typical small-town high school student who's had a crush on Lind's Missy since the first grade. Naturally, as the prettiest, most-popular girl in school, she goes with the obnoxious campus hero (Matthew Fox). In lamebrain desperation, Johnny persuades his best friend (Danny Zorn) to kidnap Missy at the convenience store where she works part time so that he can become a hero by rescuing her and be rewarded by her agreeing to be his prom date.

Unfortunately, just as the boys are setting their plan in motion, an actual masked gunman holds up the store, and Johnny is shot to death trying to protect Missy. No sooner is he six feet under than he starts rising from the grave; amusingly--but not amusingly enough--Missy pays far more attention to him now that he's a zombie than she did when he was alive. There's a hitch with Johnny's new condition, of course: His body is decaying so rapidly that whether he likes it or not he's going to have to start feasting on human flesh if he's to last out the four days to the prom.

Despite the overall direness of the circumstances, Lowery and Lind manage to make good impressions, and they're surrounded by such stalwarts as Mary Beth Hurt and Edward Herrmann as Johnny's crazy airhead parents and Austin Pendleton, who actually shines as Johnny's mercenary doctor. Other reliable pros include Bob Dishy, Paul Dooley, Cloris Leachman and Jay O. Sanders, but their efforts count for little in a film (rated PG-13 for a teen sex fantasy, zombie violence and some language) that's impossible to imagine anyone getting away with except David Lynch.

'My Boyfriend's Back'

Andrew Lowery: Johnny Dingle

Traci Lind: Missy McCloud

Danny Zorn: Eddie

Austin Pendleton: Dr. Bronson

A Buena Vista release of a Touchstone Pictures presentation. Director Bob Balaban. Producer Sean S. Cunningham. Screenplay by Dean Lorey. Cinematographer Mac Ahlberg. Editor Michael Jablow. Costumes Kimberly Tillman. Music Harry Manfredini. Production design Michael Hanan. Art director Charles Lagola. Set decorator Doug Mowat. Sound Darrell Henke. Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.

MPAA-rated PG--13 (for a teen sex fantasy, zombie violence and some language).

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