Oct 14, 2020
Teen Wolf (1985): a recap (part 3 of 3): Dances, with Wolves
Previously: Having used his newfound superpowers to get laid and win basketball games, Scott has completely run out of things to do in Bumblefuck, Indiana, or wherever this movie is supposed to take place. Also, it’s starting to piss off Scott’s friends that he’s a little too awesome at everything, a problem we can all totally relate to, right?
And now, part 3!
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The ancient order of werewolf elders have dispatched their greatest warriors to hunt down and murder Scott for revealing the existence of werewolves to the mortals. No, wait, there’s no consequences whatsoever to Scott revealing his secret, and not even any real sense of surprise. You’d think at least one TV station might send a news camera to go interview him or something.
Stiles comes by after practice to show off his new van, which he’s calling the Wolfmobile. Scott wants to swing by to pick up Lewis, but Lewis isn’t interested in hanging out with Scott anymore. Scott thinks Lewis is afraid of him, which doesn’t make any sense, because right now Scott looks more like Steve Cropper from the Blues Brothers’ band than a creature of the night.
Not only that, but Scott’s wild animal rage so far has been taken out on exactly one bowling ball. I mean, the guy was breakdancing in the hallways and getting As in class! Frankenberry has frightened more children than Scott! To cheer him up, Stiles lets Scott surf on the van roof, and Scott does a bunch of flips and handstands as they drive around town to the sounds of the Beach Boys’ “Surfin USA”.
Harold sees him and becomes concerned that Scott is getting carried away with his teen wolf fame, and confronts him at home about it. Scott claims he’s trying to “get a grip” on his powers, but complains that Mick, the basketball team, and Principal Thorne are being jerks to him. Harold explains that when he was a teen wolf, young Principal Thorne kept bothering Harold and his girlfriend, so one night Harold wolf-ed out on him and scared the crap—literally—out of him. Now, Thorne hates Scott too.
Aside from bursting in on Scott in the bathroom and giving him a generic “I’ve got my eye on you, boy” speech, I don’t really see any evidence of Principal Thorne’s dislike of Scott. In fact, I don’t see much evidence of Scott getting carried away by his powers. Generally in these kinds of movies where the geeky loser becomes the big man on campus, he does let the popularity go to his head and acts like a jerk to his former friends, but Scott hasn’t done any of that. He’s still the same good-natured Scott who at worst is just enjoying everyone’s attention too much. Yeah, he hogs the ball, but that’s because he wants to win the game for his team. Yeah, he car surfs through town with Stiles, but he did that before he was a teen wolf. Yeah, he’s not really talking to Boof anymore, but she sucks, so the less screen time she gets, the better.
However, Harold still warns Scott that he needs to learn how to control his powers. He admits that when he wolfed out on Thorne, he didn’t know who was more afraid, him or young Thorne.
The next day, Scott heads to school and greets the dog sitting on his lawn. We hear a “Morning” in response, and I got very excited, because I briefly thought that being a teen wolf means that Scott can talk to other dogs and we were going to get into some hilarious hijinks but no, it turns out it’s just Boof sitting on his porch like a stalker.
They walk to school together, and Boof asks if Scott is going to the spring dance. Scott hasn’t really thought about it, but since Pamela ditched him he asks Boof, because she’s the only other named female character. She agrees to go with him, but only if he does it in his human form. Scott protests that everyone expects him to be in his wolf form, and they all treat him like he’s nobody when he’s human. What? Everyone seems to treat Scott just fine out of wolf form, so I don’t get where this is coming from. Boof also thinks this is bullshit and tells Scott that she’ll see him at the dance, but not as his date.
Scott heads to the dance in wolf form in a John Travolta-esque suit, and everyone gets excited when he shows up. Boof agrees to dance with Scott even though he’s in his wolf form, and together they lead the entire school in a knock-off version of the “Thriller” dance.
Even though Scott is with Boof and later changes into his human form just for her, Mick is still jealous, especially since Pamela keeps flirting with Scott. At one point, Mick sarcastically asks Pamela if she’s planning on having Scott’s puppies.
Mick gets overcome by jealousy and sucker-punches Scott. Enraged, Scott wolfs out and rips Mick’s shirt. Everyone laughs at Mick, which I don’t understand. It’s not like Scott ripped Mick’s pants and we saw he had embarrassing underwear or something. Everyone’s just laughing at the fact Mick has chiseled abs. Only Lewis gives Scott a judge-y look about the whole thing, and suddenly ridden with angst, Scott runs out of the dance.
Principal Thorne follows him and gleefully brags about how he finally has an excuse to expel Scott. Howard must have heard someone threatening his son with his excellent wolf hearing, because he instantly appears from behind a corner and tells Thorne to back off. He reminds Thorne of what he’s capable of and growls, causing Thorne to wet himself. Either that, or he just became very aroused. Maybe both. Thorne seems like a secretly kinky guy.
Scott decides that he needs to stop relying on the wolf and be his human self. He tries to do this at rehearsal for the play, but the theater teacher demands to see the wolf. I have no idea why. The play is set during the Civil War, so unless they’re doing the Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter take, there’s no reason why a one-line role needs to be played by a werewolf. Scott gets fed up with the director’s pretentiousness and quits. He also quits basketball right before the championship game against the Dragons, which Boof and Stiles don’t agree with. Boof thinks it’s silly for Scott to give up everything, while Stiles thinks he shouldn’t quit until Stiles has unloaded all of his Teen Wolf merchandise. Come on, Scott! Stiles has an investment to protect.
At the championship game, the team is getting soundly trounced without Scott. He shows up two periods late and the entire gym goes quiet as he approaches the team. The school starts chanting for the wolf, and Coach thinks Scott must be going for some sort of theatrics. The rest of the team isn’t happy to see Scott, but they’re prepared to let him win the game for them. Scott announces that he’s going to play in his human form, and gives a rousing speech about teamwork and how they don’t need the wolf to win.
But sure enough, Scott’s speech works, and the team pulls together to catch up to the Dragons as the cheesy, but inspirational “Win in the End” plays in the background. In the last seconds of the game, Scott gets fouled by Mick, and just like in the beginning of the movie, he has to take a free throw. Scott scores and wins the game and everyone cheers.
Pamela tries to go for Scott again, but he ignores her in favor of Boof. He will not be someone’s fetish! Mick tries to get Pamela to leave with him, but she tells him to “drop dead” and joins the other celebrators. Boof and Scott make out as the rest of the school celebrates the victory and the credits roll.
Is it a good movie, by artistic standards?
There’s no real plot development, no real character development, and most of Scott’s problems are told to us, instead of shown. We don’t see evidence that Lewis is afraid of Scott, that Principal Thorne is eager to nail Scott for something, or that people only like Scott when he’s in his wolf form, so why are these presented as Scott’s chief problems? The film also tries to build up a father-son subplot between Scott and Howard, but it only consists of Howard dispensing generic platitudes and Scott bemoaning his powers.
Michael J. Fox’s charm carries most of the movie, but he has no real chemistry with Boof, who disappears and reappears to remind the viewers that she’s the nice girl he’s going to end up with, or Pamela, who’s just a hot ’80s blonde. Stiles, arguably the most entertaining part of the cast, serves as excellent comic relief in the first third of the film, but then his presence is reduced in the later half in favor of Scott angsting alone.
Maybe if Jeph Loeb and Matthew Weisman had more time for re-writes, Teen Wolf could have been a much better movie, but as it is, it just sucks.
Is it a good movie, by snarkable standards?
I had fun imagining Pamela was a furry and that Mick killed Scott’s mom, but that’s about it. The movie has all these crazy plot elements but doesn’t do anything fun with them, which makes this hard to snark on since it’s just so bad.
I did, however, enjoy Stiles’s shirts.
Why couldn’t this movie have been about Stiles?