Category Archives: Making the Grade

You Can’t Get Depressed with a Name Like Bif

Oh, THIS TV, how I love you. I also love ION, but I especially love THIS TV. It’s like TBS for the great uncabled. Last night, I landed on “Vice Versa,” but despite it being an adorable reminder of Judge Reinhold’s cuteness, I decided to forego it for “Master Chef.” We switched back after they ditched the guy with the worst apple pie, and to my ever-loving gobsmacked eyes, “Making the Grade” came on.

The 80s produced many prep school movies, and like all teen subgenres, had a few wins (“Class” being the best of the best) and ┬álots more flops (“Up the Academy” being the one I remember best; when an 8-year-old knows a movie isn’t funny, it isn’t funny.). Phoebe Cates, of course, starred in roughly half of them, and had sex “From Here to Eternity”-style in “Private School,” sometime after the the aerobics class and topless horseback ride. but in the Rocket house, the very, very favorite, was always “Making the Grade.”

I was worried about watching it; I’ve been disappointed in my adulthood many times by movies I found hilarious in the 80s. (Bachelor Party, I’m looking at you.) The most disappointing thing about re-watching “Making the Grade” was that they left half of it on THIS TV’s floor: most notably, the scene in which Rand (the playboy’s sidekick) teaches street kid Eddie how to dress preppy. I was appalled: the entire point of the movie is to teach us kids how to dress preppy, especially since we didn’t get The Preppy Handbook way down in Greene County. And they cut THIS scene?

Best line: “Socks: Wear them only to weddings, and then, only to your own.” As a kid in the sticks, I was shocked that preppies were not neat and tidy, that they wore clothes too big, shoes too small, and pants too high. OK, I knew about the pants part.

Then there’s the bit part played by Andrew Dice Clay, with his Stayin’ Alive scene; Jonna Lee, who played the drums in Lovelines (another post) and has a spectacular rack, mostly because they’re real. Mr. Carlson plays the headmaster of the school, every guy wears pink, and Dennis Blunden plays the seniors’ “floor model” for demonstrating proper behavior to “smacks.” Also, Judd Nelson says “BREAK DAAAANCE” and then proceeds to do that, in a series of distant shots and closeups of his face.

NOTE: Less enjoyable are the two black characters: one as Palmer’s housekeeper, and the other as Tracy’s footman. No lie. He’s a footman. And the word “massuh” is only slightly silent.

But the real reason to watch “Making the Grade” is Dana Olsen as the real Palmer Woodrow III. I can only assume that he was actually playing himself, because no other reason for his performance makes sense, considering that he never made any other movies. I can’t find the best part–when he gets drunk and returns to the prep school–so you’ll have to TiVO it and forward to the best parts. Just look for the drunk guy shooting wine into Dan Schneider’s mouth from a bota bag.

Factoid: he also co-wrote “The ‘Burbs.” Which, unlike “Bachelor Party,” gets funnier every time I watch it.

And here: make your own meme.