11 September 2000 | leapso
Trashy, enjoyable, surprisingly focussed kids-in-prison movie
This is a really, really obscure movie - doesn't make the Leonard Maltin guide under either title - which, for trash movie lovers, offers more than a lot of better known flicks.
For those familiar with the women-in-prison genre of campy movies, this is kind of a kids-in-prison equivalent. You don't want to do "Growing Pains"/"Bad Manners" the disservice of taking it too seriously, since it doesn't demand anything of the sort, but unusually for this kind of film, it has the odd serious undertone, and good acting from the kids.
Where it wins, is its unsentimental, hilariously upfront portrayal of the kids and their language - it kind of pre-dates the "South Park" approach in a small way. The adults are routinely presented as gross caricatures. These two factors, in 1984, probably account for the film's howling commercial success, ahem.
Martin Mull and particularly Karen Black give some good value mugging in the grotesque adult category, but it's the kids' film. In a way it also kind of parallels kid rebellion movies like "Over the Edge", which preceded it. Not great, but very watchable, and unusual enough to be a real curio.