When the movie “Teen Wolf” was released in 1985, I was obsessed with it. The film, about a nerdy high school student who becomes a werewolf, starring Michael J. Fox, was a hit, spurring not only a sequel (starring Jason Bateman) but a cartoon series, of which I was also a fan. It was always a movie I thought of fondly, so when I stumbled across the opening credits of Teen Wolf while flipping channels earlier this week, I rejoiced. But a half-hour into it, I grew puzzled. “This movie is not good,” I thought. “Could my opinions of films have evolved from when I was 6?”
Let me qualify my obsession with Teen Wolf: For Halloween that year, my mother made me an elaborate costume, ironing on letters reading “Teen Wolf” to a mesh cap I wore atop my werewolf mask, and gluing fake fur to the back of rubber gloves with the fingers cut off. I was in heaven.
On the day we wore our costumes to school, the elementary teachers took us on a parade through the high school, and I remember giving thumbs up to the high school girls. I could tell they all had crushes on me; I knew they wondered about the man behind the wolf, just as the girls did for Michael J. Fox in the movie. For months afterward, I would pretend I could hear dog whistles and would study my teeth in the mirror to see if I was growing fangs.
The story of a geeky kid on a loser basketball team who realizes he has amazing powers has undeniable appeal, and Fox could portray manic adolescent energy better than almost anyone. That Teen Wolf’s skyrocketing popularity would end in hubris tempered by greater self-knowledge wasn’t the most original plot line, but geez, what do you expect from a teen comedy/werewolf flick?
But no matter how great my nostalgia for Teen Wolf, I could not make myself like that movie upon watching it last week. The soundtrack was lame, the jokes weren’t funny, and, perhaps most egregiously, the film failed to achieve that authenticity of high school life in the 1980s that made so many other movies of that era fun to watch. And the character “Stiles?” Are you kidding me? At my high school, that dude would have gotten his ass kicked.
I have been feeling disappointed ever since, but this isn’t the first time a movie I loved when I was younger has not seemed as funny upon watching it now. There was a summer during my childhood where my friends and I watched “Spaceballs” almost every day. The last time I saw that movie, I was not impressed. The same holds true for “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “UHF,” (with the exception, of course, of Spatula City). Another dud that somehow remains a classic is “Weird Science.” I defy you to watch that movie and tell me it’s any good (other than the scene where Anthony Michael Hall gets drunk).
There are, of course, those films that age better. “The Goonies” came on a few weeks back, and that movie remains every bit as exciting as when I saw it in the theater. But Teen Wolf, unfortunately, is not in the same class. So I flipped it off in an act of self-preservation before it ended – before the play where Fox is a werewolf-confederate general, before the triumphant basketball game, before my second-grade enthusiasm for Teen Wolf was totally squelched.
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