Review

  • Warning: Spoilers
    Way back in 1983, when I was 11 1/2, I saw _Zapped!_ on HBO. The funny part about it was that my grandmother, who was visiting at the time, wanted to know what I wanted to watch, so she took out the HBO Guide and read the blurb on it. I clearly remember her reading aloud, "Scott Baio stars as the boy who can maneuver both a baseball and the buttons on a girl's blouse," and (POTENTIAL SPOILER), although I can't remember the exact words, how he blows off everybody's clothes at the prom. She insisted on sitting up with me, presumably for my protection. Well, she fell asleep, so I got to watch the whole thing. But even at 11 1/2, I was surprised at how tame the movie was (except for the nude scenes). I got to thinking about _Zapped!_ recently, so I bought a VHS copy to watch it again. What do I think about it 19 years later? Read on.

    According to the IMDb, _Zapped!_ was originally rated PG, but the filmmakers added the nude scenes to raise the rating to an R. Watching it again, I'd have to agree: the entire film seems like a made-for-TV movie or an after school special. There's only mild, PG-rated profanity, no gross-out scenes, and nothing really offensive (unless you consider the nude scenes offensive). What you have, then, is a PG-rated movie with some incongruous nudity added. And it probably doesn't help any that _Zapped!_ was made in 1982, a bland year if ever there was one.

    Unfortunately, the acting is bland along with the rest of the movie. The three leads were all TV actors (Baio from _Happy Days_, Aames from _Eight is Enough_, and Schachter from _The Facts of Life_), so they resort to that bland TV style of acting, making _Zapped!_ seem even more like a television production trapped in a feature film's body. Scatman Crothers, as the baseball coach, and Eddie Deezen, in his brief appearance at the frat house, are better, but their talents are wasted here.

    The special effects involving levitation are quite good, and even though the animation used looks cheesy today (remember, _Zapped!_ was made 20 years ago), it's still fun to watch and see how far computer animation has come.

    But unfortunately, _Zapped!_ isn't funny. The main reason for this is probably that the filmmakers play it too safe, supporting the theory that the movie was originally supposed to be rated PG. Yes, I know that Baio and Aames were TV stars, so they wanted to make a movie that their younger stars could go see in the theater (home video wasn't that big in '82, so you had to get 'em into the theaters). But there were many PG-rated movies at that time (_Airplane!_ immediately comes to mind) that pushed the envelope, so the original rating is really no excuse.

    Personally, I only found two good scenes in this movie: 1) the scene after the baseball game, when Baio gets revenge on the people in the convertible; and 2) the prom scene (of course). When I watched _Zapped!_ for the second time, I had seen _Carrie_, so I appreciated the prom scene a lot more (including the "prism" shot of Heather Thomas, taken directly from DePalma's film).

    It was interesting to watch _Zapped!_ again and see how much of it I remembered (which was a lot), and those early 80s clothes and hair are always a hoot, but the movie itself was disappointing. I'd recommend this only if you're a fan of any of the cast, or if you want to relive the early 80s.