Johnny Be Good Blu-ray Review
Writing this review is a little painful. You see, I have a lot of fond memories of JOHNNY BE GOOD. I discovered it on VHS in 1989 when I was about 11 years-old. That was right around the time I started to learn and love football and was just starting to watch PG-13 movies. So JOHNNY BE GOOD was right up my alley; a movie about football that dealt with cool high school kids having sex and partying and starring an actor I recognized from some of my favorite John Hughes movies. But my VHS tape wore out by the early 90’s and I never picked it up on DVD, so it had been at least 20 years since I have seen JOHNNY BE GOOD and unfortunately for my childhood memories, time has not been kind.
Anthony Michael Hall was a few years removed from WEIRD SCIENCE and seemed intent on proving he was no longer the high school nerd he had made a name for himself in movies like THE BREAKFAST CLUB and SIXTEEN CANDLES. So he went the opposite direction as the popular star quarterback in JOHNNY BE GOOD. Here, he’s a talented athlete that’s being recruited by all the top schools in the country. But these schools aren’t just recruiting him, they’re bribing him with money, cars and women and he’s loving every minute of it while at the same time trying to juggle his girlfriend (Uma Thurman in her first film) and his obligations to his family. It doesn’t help that his best friend Leo, (Robert Downey Jr.) is egging him on the entire time.
The film excels when Johnny is on his recruitment trips, even though there’s only two of them. That’s when the movie takes off and stops taking itself so seriously and we get some fun situations. But unfortunately, they’re too few and far between. The rest of the time is wasted on a “battle” between him and his coach, played by his BREAKFAST CLUB nemesis Paul Gleason. I’m also not sure why Leo didn’t accompany him on his trips since Robert Downey Jr. was in full crazy, nonsensical form for this one. Hall needed someone to play off of and it would have been funnier to see them on those trips together.
The editing and the direction are also very, very poor. It felt as if director Bud S. Smith didn’t know where to point the camera half the time. The script was decent enough for the first two acts, but when they tried to wrap it up, there was a whole subplot about Leo betraying Johnny that was glossed over so quickly it didn’t make sense to the story. By the third act, it seemed they forgot they had to wrap everything up and so it all felt very forced.
On the plus side, I was reminded how great Anthony Michael Hall was in the 80’s. He really carried this film and did a fantastic job with virtually no help from the script. He had an incredible run there in the mid 80’s and although JOHNNY BE GOOD doesn’t stand up to his films with John Hughes, he was impressive nonetheless.
I’m probably being a little easy on JOHNNY BE GOOD by letting nostalgia get the best of me, but this was the last movie he played a high school kid and I always considered it a cap to his 80’s dominance. It’s not something you could watch repeatedly as you might have in your pre-teens, but it’s a nice trip down memory lane.
Video: This is as about as good as it’s going to get for JOHNNY BE GOOD. The video isn’t great, but it’s probably better than you’ve ever seen it.
Audio: The audio was fine.
There are no special features