4/26/09

RVOD062 What About Juvenile Delinquency?

(1955, Educational/Short, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Confine your beatings of bald guys only to those who absolutely deserve it.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Jamie quits his gang when they beat up his dad by mistake.

Summary:

[Once again, I’ve recycled the summary from the first time I reviewed this short.]

Sure, that sounds like a good idea.A gang of no-good hoodlums cruises through town, repeatedly rear-ending a Buick that has the audacity to stop at a stop sign. The driver somehow thinks it wise to get out and confront them. The sneering nogoodniks beat him up and steal his pencil. Meanwhile the driver’s son Jamie is waiting for his friends to arrive. From the homemade lightning badge on his jacket we see that he too is a no-good hoodlum. He and his friends go to a diner where they show off the ill-gotten pencil. Jamie recognizes it, tears off his patch, and quits the gang in a huff.

The next day in school, the gang delivers a menacing apology and demands that he return to their ranks. Jamie is in the process of refusing when all the most important kids in school show up (the class president, the captain of the football team, etc.) and ask that he go with them to the city council, which even now is meeting to restrict such important teenage freedoms as sock hops and sporting events. Jamie goes with them and, with his no-good former friends eavesdropping at the door, steps forward to deliver what will no doubt be a solemn and pithy opinion on the subject of delinquency. Fortunately, the short ends before we’re forced to listen to it.

Thoughts:

Hand-sewn gang patch courtesy Miss Kelly's first grade class.So, authority figures of the fifties believed that gangs were basically overlarge Cub Scouts with chips on their shoulders? For some reason, I find that adorable. Wrongheaded but adorable.

This is the second time Kevin and Mike have riffed this one (Bill’s the only one fresh to the material) and astonishingly, they manage to avoid repeating jokes. Sometimes, this is at the expense of content that is just begging for mockery—for example, no one mentions Jamie’s ridiculous highwater pants because they already made fun of them in the MST3K version—but mostly they find new ways of looking at the situations. When we see our first close-up of the elementary school-quality lightning bolt badges, Mike calls them, “The fearsome electric fried egg gang”. When the battered Dad struggles to explain his injuries, Bill says, “I blame Elvis and his obscene hip gestures”. As the Very Important High School Student Squad continues to thrust their heads toward the camera, Kevin speculates that they “prefer to be halfway in our mouths”. They wink at the fact that this is old material only once, when Mike explains a character’s mysterious foreknowledge of events with, “I’ve seen this before”. Even if you’ve seen the old version already, this one’s different and funny enough to make it worth picking up.