**** The Pitch: Robin Sparkle-tastic!
If you’ve ever watched the sitcom How I Met Your Mother you may be familiar with a long running plotline about a main character’s embarrassing past as a teen pop star called Robin Sparkles in 1990s Canada. Think Debbie Gibson or Tiffany, but ten years out of date. It’s one of the best bits about the show. Sometimes we’ve had ‘Sparkle-thons’ just because those are the best episodes. Here is one of the best scenes.
That being said, there would be no Robin Sparkles without earnestly cheesy films such as Teen Witch. And this is what I have spent my Friday night watching, alone and unashamed. A genuine Midnight Movie if ever there was one, this is a boda fide so-bad-its-good cult classic. I was previously familiar with Teen Wolf (hairy Michael J. Fox) and Teen Angel (way too hairless Jason Priestly) but Teen Witch is probably the cheesiest of them all. Robyn Lively (much older sister of Blake and namesake of Sparkles) is the geeky girl who comes into supernatural powers on her sixteenth birthday, and instead of using them for the greater good, channels them into becoming the most popular girl at school (we know this because the accompanying montage song is called ‘Most Popular Girl’ or something like that), getting some moron called Brad (straight from a Sweet Valley High cover) to fall in love with her, and bonding with her witchy guru (Poltergeist’s Zelda Rubinstein).
Something immediately striking, and not unusual in the 80s teen –fantasy canon is that every man in this film is like a plastic-eunuch Ken doll – vacuously good looking, verging on feminine and painstaking stripped of any genuinely masculine threat*. This just adds to the guilty pleasure factor. Dick Sergeant plays Lively’s dad with no notion there is a closet, let alone Narnia; which is fine but it does make the scenes with his wife a bit weird. Scratch that*, there is one self-confessed horn dog who Lively takes to the prom and acts like it’s a chore. He wants to do weed, looks like the height of Shoreditch art scene fashion and actually seems to be having fun, albeit in an overly high-spirited way. There is also Lively’s younger brother (the always creepy Joshua John Miller) whose only distinguishing character trait is to over-eat, grotesquely. But within the genre of so-bad-that-its-good Midnight Movie, this is definitely not a bad thing.
Nor is the over reliance on saxophone solos (this is an 80s flick after all), but I fell off the sofa laughing at the earnest use of bad rap (as in the later She’s All That, the musical interludes stand out painfully from proceedings) and the locker-room cheerleader song ‘We Like Boys’. It should have raised my feminist hackles but it was just too innocent for its own good. So get the girls over (it will take a special man to watch this with you), embrace the stonewashed denim, and laugh your asses off.