Sunday, August 28, 2011
#7: Going Steady
Disc 2: Side B
Going Steady opens on our protagonists--Benji, Huey and Bobby--cruising in their convertible through what looks like the classic-car-infested set of America Graffiti. It is, we presume, the 1950s.
“Hey now, look over there!” cries Huey. “There’s a good-looking girl!”
Soon after, the boys park the car and amble into a diner, where other youngsters are shaking their hips to the rock and roll blasting out of a jukebox. Huey snaps a girl’s bra strap. Uh oh, the viewer thinks. How integral will bra-snapping be to this plot? The viewer’s fears deepen as the boys pick up some girls at the diner, drive them out to the beach, strip naked and jump in the ocean, all the while trying to entice the girls to join them. Suddenly the girls’ boyfriends show up on motorcycles, snatch the boys’ clothes and speed off. Benji (Yftach Katzur), Huey (Zachi Noy) and Bobby (Jonathan Sagall) are forced to go home naked and face their disapproving parents, seeming to confirm the viewer's suspicion that Going Steady is yet another in the long tradition of films about the humiliation of young adulthood and the age old quest to get laid.
And yet it manages to rise above Porky’s and its countless rip-offs and sequels--Porky’s II: The Next Day, Porky’s III: The Day After Tomorrow, Porky’s IV: The Final Chapter, Porky’s V: A New Beginning, Porky’s VI: Jason Takes Angel Beach High School. The film leaves behind the silly gags to focus on Benji’s pursuit of his dream girl Tammy (Yvonne Michaels). He fakes a letter from the principal in order to get Tammy out of class. He holds up a sign asking Tammy if she’ll go out with him. He sits down across from her in a quiet library, pulls out a carrot, celery, bell pepper and other crunchy vegetables, and takes loud bites--much to the irritation of the other patrons. Tammy, however, is impressed, and agrees to go out with him. Yes, it’s still pretty silly, but there’s something charming about Benji and Tammy’s courtship. And as the movie progresses, their relationship deepens, they go through emotional highs and lows of young love, and, like the characters themselves, Going Steady seems to mature a little right before the viewer’s eyes.
But perhaps what distinguishes the film most of all is that, despite its American Graffiti-style milieu, Going Steady is actually set in Tel Aviv. It’s the second in the popular, long-running Lemon Popsicle series from Israel that predates Porky‘s and its ilk by quite a few years. In the Hebrew language version of the film, Benji, Huey and Bobby are Benzi, Yudale and Momo, respectively. Going Steady is simply a poorly-dubbed version of the original, Yotzim Kavua. Somehow, this adds another layer to what, at first glance, seems like your average teen sex-comedy.
Anybody else pleasantly surprised by Going Steady? Anybody seen the other films in the Lemon Popsicle series? Are they any good? How much bra-snapping is involved? Too little or not enough?