MADE IN USA
(director/writer: Ken Friedman; screenwriters; story by Zbigniew Kempinski & Nick Wechsler/Nick Wechsler; cinematographer: Curtis Clark; editor: Curtiss Clayton; music: Sonic Youth; cast: Adrian Pasdar (Dar), Chris Penn (Tuck), Judith Baldwin (Dorie), Lori Singer (Annie), Frank Beddor (Bud), Jacqueline Murphy (Cora), Dean Paul Martin (Cowboy), Tiny Wells (Pop Frazier), Marji Martin (Ma Frazier), Mark Carlton (Ford Salesman), Lionel Croll (Garage Owner), Anthony Duran (Lonny); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Charles Roven; TriStar Pictures; 1987)
“A depressing road movie.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A depressing road movie helmed by Ken Friedman (“Death by Invitation”), who never directed again after this stinker. It was re-edited by the production company-Hemdale Film Corporation-and released straight-to-VHS two years later, looking quite different from Friedman’s original version and worse than his subsequent bad edit job. The anti-establishment rebels, the film’s anti-heroes, were assholes and garnered no sympathy, which was a major reason the film never got an audience and got drubbed by most critics. That aspect never changed in the edits.
It’s based on a story by Zbigniew Kempinski & Nick Wechsler, and is co-scripted by Friedman and Wechsler.
Don’t confuse this movie with Jean-Luc Godard’s wonderful 1966 film just because they have the same title.
The story is about two unemployed young bad asses, lifetime buddies, Dar (Adrian Pasdar) and the ex-con Tuck (Chris Penn), with nothing going for them except they wear black leather motorcycle jackets like Brando in The Wild One. The boys steal a car and flee their dying town and the burning coal mines in Centralia, PA. The aimless young men go X-country, seemingly driving through the most depressed spots in America, to find a surfer’s beach in Los Angeles, hoping to change their fortunes and meet the sexy dream gal they ogled in a surfer magazine.
On the road, in a country bar, Dar steals this insane wild chick Annie (Lori Singer) from her cowboy dancing partner and they become a threesome on their way to LA. The trio get their jollies stealing a fancy rig from a crude obese couple (Tiny Wells & Marji Martin) of rednecks. In New Mexico they befriend a 17-year-old runaway Indian girl Cora (Jacqueline Murphy), who is hitching a ride to re-connect with her older brother (Anthony Duran) living on another Indian reservation. Annie nurses a coyote back to health that was shot on the road by a redneck and they keep it as a pet for Cora. When Annie can’t be stopped from robbing an industrial bank at gunpoint, the trio split. The buddies deliver Cora to her hostile brother, who doesn’t appreciate their interest in Cora and has his Indian brothers give the white guys a scalping (a haircut) with their long knives.
In LA their dream girl rejects them.
The bouncy tunes of Sonic Youth in the background have more of a feel for the story than the writers did. The film’s heavy-handed environmental message made it hard to give a shit that the boys were on the right track blaming corporate America for much of the country’s ecological problems.
REVIEWED ON 1/30/2020 GRADE: C https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/