CAST: Jonathan Tucker, Rachael Leigh
Cook, Agnes Bruckner, Val Kilmer, Joe Mantegna, Carrie Fisher, Ed
Begley Jr., Diane Venora, Penny Marshall, Daniel Franzese, Zena
Grey, Michael Goduti, Caryn Greenhut, Brian Geraghty
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Reverge Anselmo
belles of St. Mary's Catholic High School are not your garden-variety
sluts. Beneath their neatly pressed uniforms, they are onward Christian
students devoutly marching off to moonlit trysts with stoned studs.
And the most devil-may-care coed of all is Sue Dubois (a.k.a. Sue
of the D'ubervilles), a nymph in perpetual heat who can hardly wait
to get home so she can jot down the details of a rapturous blow
job in the diary she conceals inside her teddy bear.
Somewhat surprisingly, all of this feverish activity takes place
in superficially conservatve Connecticut during the early eighties,
a time and place shamefully short on soul--not to mention common
sense--according to writer-director Reverge Anselmo, who claims
this brazen, hysterical, lyrical, poignantly over-the-top tale is
based at least a little on his own experiences growing up.
I hope the stuff about the abduction of Sue Dubois is pure fiction.
It's difficult to describe, but it goes something like this: One
night, having skipped her homework in favor of having a little fun,
Sue can be found romping and rolling with classmate Gregory in the
back seat of his car. Indeed, Sue is found romping and rolling--by
Danny, the virginal younger brother of Gregory, and Danny's equally
virginal friend Mark. Faster than Gregory can zip up his trousers,
Danny and Mark, who've had far too many brews, yank squealing Sue
from the back seat, dump her in their own car, and are soon whizzing
down the dark highway. Mark, at the wheel, can't seem to keep his
eyes off the half-naked Sue, which is why he crashes into another
car, thereby instantly crippling its driver--Father Concoff, the
dizzy head priest of St. Mary's--and knocking out a few of Sue's
Sue's missing front teeth are the least of her problems, however.
Her iceberg of a mom, having discovered the secret inside the teddy
bear, pops up at Sue's hospital bedside and starts reading aloud
a passage from Sue's diary that would bring a blush to Henry Miller's
cheek. This sends Sue shrieking and flailing out of her bed and
down the hallway and, before long, into a state-run loony bin.
enough about Sue. The movie is mainly about Mark, the careless driver
whose mother recently died and whose father is the meanest--and
perhaps wealthiest--man in town. After punching the hell out of
Mark for driving under the influence, his well-connected dad cuts
a deal with the authorities whereby his son, instead of going to
prison, is given the opportunity to enlist in the Marines. Which
turns out not to be a good deal, since Mark's sadistic drill instructor
at Parris Island, South Carolina, could teach the gang at Abu Ghraib
a few tricks.
Mark find love, at least? Yes, with a schizophrenic pop singer/failed
movie star who is the roommate of--you guessed it--Sue Dubois in
a half-way house that is seemingly located somewhere in the vicinity
of Manhattan's Greenwich Village. But that's before Mark winds up
at a Marine base in Beirut. I won't tell you how he survives the
suicide bombing there, but I will say the movie has a happy ending!
Why should you care? Probably you shouldn't. Yet, as silly, sloppy
and essentially pointless as it is, "Stateside" does manage
to hold you. Anselmo's manipulation of images is skillful, and in
one instance--a montage of brutally punishing military drills--mesmerizing,
in a bizarrely Busby Berkeleyesque way. And, while he has not inbued
his characters with much in the way of psychological nuance, Anselmo
has drawn commandingly colorful performances from Jonathan Tucker
as Mark; Agnes Bruckner as Sue; Val Kilmer as the Parris Island
drill demon; Joe Mantegna as Mark's callous father, and--in what
are surely meant to be hilarious turns--Carrie Fisher as Sue's venomously
unforgiving mother; Ed Begley Jr. as an uptight priest thrown for
a loop by a student's vivid essay on onanism, and Penny Marshall
as a sicko nurse in an understaffed veterans' hospital.
As for Rachael Leigh Cook in the part of Dori Lawrence, the schizoid
love of Mark's life, this mugging, twitching starlet has nowhere
to go but up. --GUY FLATLEY