HOT MOVES (1984)
Director: Jim Sotos
Code Red DVD

Losing one's virginity is a rite of passage that Hollywood has seen fit to exploit on numerous occasions. Most often played for laughs, films such as Rob Reiner’s THE SURE THING and the AMERICAN PIE series have not only ensured that Eugene Levy would receive a regular paycheck, but they have entertained by providing comedic insight into the life of the all American (and usually Caucasian) male as they attempt to find passage into the pants of the opposite sex. In such tradition, Code Red DVD has updated HOT MOVES, replacing the sun damaged VHS box for a slick and shiny DVD case all while maintaining the fun and frivolity of the late night guilty pleasure.

Michael (Adam Silbar), Barry (Michael Zorek, PRIVATE SCHOOL), Joey (Jeff Fishman) and Scotty (Johnny Timko), mortified at the thought of entering their senior year as virgins, make a pact to help each other pop their cherry before the end of summer break. Barry looks posed to be the first of the foursome to fulfill his end of the bargain, hooking up with a teddy bear obsessed waitress from the local bowling ally. The evening however goes up in flames, leaving Barry alone and soaking wet. Attempting to rekindle a romance with his ex-girlfriend of six months Julie Ann (Jill Schoelen, THE STEPFATHER), Michael tries to pick up things where they left off but Julie Ann isn't having it. Aware that Michael’s priorities only involve her panties, Julie Ann reluctantly rebuffs his advances as she is holding out for a more committed relationship. Despite seeking the council of a professional, Joey still comes up empty handed when every hooker on Hollywood Blvd either turns him down or proves too expensive. And poor Scotty discovers the hard way that the attractive new woman on his paper route has one chromosome too many for his liking. With summer break coming to a close, the four start losing hope that their pact will hold true but a suggestion by Michael’s brother (Roger Rose, SKI PATROL) to call beach beauty Heidi (Deborah Richter, CYBORG) for a night out on the town, proves beneficial for all, providing an evening that no one will soon forget.

A bevy of bikinis, madcap situations and a handful of solid laughs made HOT MOVES a hot commodity for late night basic cable throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, most memorably on the USA Network’s “Up All Night”. For anyone who grew up in the 1980s, HOT MOVES will feel like a visual time capsule of the decade thanks in part to an abundance of second unit filler that documents the active social life of the Venice Beach boardwalk. Break dancers battle and uber-tanned muscle men lift weights while girls in neon colored spandex roller-skate in between voyeuristic tourists, awestruck by the sunny California culture. Strangely, the proceedings feel innocent in contrast to today’s sexually driven marketplace, a comment noted by director Jim Sotos (SWEET SIXTEEN) on the disc's commentary track. While some things never change, such as the eagerness of a teenage male to lose his virginity, the way we view and discuss sex has. Whereas the AMERICAN PIE series, whose first entry owes much to HOT MOVES, cover topics far racier than those found here, HOT MOVES trumps its contemporaries in its displays of female flesh, both in quality and quantity.

Let’s be honest. Anyone paying good money to see a sex comedy is not going to be as disappointed in the infrequency of laughs as there are in the lack of nudity. With HOT MOVES you get both, with a strong enfaces on the nudity. Fans of Tinto Brass will be particularly smitten with HOT MOVES as director Jim Sotos has an affinity for zeroing in and focusing on a number of tight and taught derrieres. Almost every inch of the female cast is on full display with Deborah Richter providing the film's most rising performance. The fashion of the early 1980s, which look ridiculous on just about anybody else, seems tailor made for Deborah whose voluptuous body is more than enough enthusiasm for Michael and his friends. Penthouse Pet Monique Gabrielle (DEATHSTALKER II) is also quite eye catching, as is the film's most notorious scene, that of the boys spying on a female at a nude beach. How a movie that shows over a dozen nude ladies running in slow motion down the beach, backed by a bastardization of the CHARIOTS OF FIRE theme, managed to make its way out of the MPAA without an X rating is surely as sign of the times. The only way a producer could get away with the same scene today would be to release the picture “unrated”, straight to DVD.

While it is the ladies that draw your attention for the vast majority of the film’s 85 minute running time, there are a couple of male cast members of note. Michael Zorek is pitch perfect as Barry, the brains behind the pact and delivery man for almost every laugh. Michael is also the film's most recognizable 1980s actor having stared in HIGH SCHOOL U.S.A. and opposite Kelly LeBrock in THE WOMAN IN RED. Punky Brewster’s dad Virgil Frye (REVENGE OF THE NINJA) plays an adult shop owner, credited only as “The Porno Man”. While his role is minor, his character gets more laughs than many of the main cast. All present are capable enough, but at the end of the day forgettable when compared to their female co-stars and the various states of undress they find themselves in.

For its DVD debut, Code Red DVD has thankfully kept the same image of the long out of print Vestron Video VHS cover, familiar to anyone who frequented video stores in the early 1990s. With an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, HOT MOVES is attractive but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it hot. Video is often grainy, evocative of a frequently rented VHS, and there are a handful of instances in which the print flutters and waves. Mono audio sounds a bit distant and there is a strong, hearty pop at most all reel changes, but the jokes come through and such flaws may actually heighten the experience for anyone looking to relive the glory days of the Mom and Pop video stores.

Michael Zorek provides a brief introduction to the feature along side audio commentator Julia, who helps guide director Sotos, writer Peter Foldy and star Adam Silbar through a fond trip down memory lane. Michael’s memory is particularly vivid, recalling which articles of clothing were his own and which were provided by wardrobe, while Adam Silbar’s fondest memories appear to be his make out sessions with co-star Jill Schoelen. Discussing the film and his career in further detail, Michael Zorek sits down for an on camera interview located in the special features which runs about thirteen minutes. A separate interview segment with Sotos, Foldy and Silbar is also on hand, with a running time shy of eight minutes. Both Michael and Peter recall having to deal with Deborah Richter’s boyfriend at the time, who would often hang around the set intimidating everyone during her nude scenes. A still gallery comprised of pages from the film's pressbook tops off a nostalgic and entertaining trip back to the Reagan administration. (Jason McElreath)

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