Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: My Tutor (1985)
Studio Line: Rhino - Schoo's out...but Bobby's education has just begun!

Bobby Chrystal and his friends Billy and Jack are three rambunctious high school seniors looking for love. It seems everything leaves them, well, unfulfilled. Jack is chased out of a whorehouse by a vicious dominatrix, Billy is almost beaten to a pulp after hitting on some female mud wrestlers, and Bobby ends up making his getaway when the girl he's making out with is paid a surprise visit by her motorcycle gang boyfriend. All that cruising leaves little time to study, and Bobby flunks French. His hopes of attending Yale seem lost until shapely, blonde beauty Terry Green is hired to teach him the language of love. Before you know it, verbs turn into urges, and she ends up teaching him more than how to structure a sentence.

Director: George Bowers
Cast: Carey Kaye, Matt Lattanzi, Kevin McCarthy, Clark Brandon, Bruce Bauer, Arlene Golonka
Box Office: Gross: $22.587 million.
DVD: Standard 1.33:1; audio Digital Stereo; subtitles none; single side - single layer; 24 chapters; rated R; 97 min.; $19.95; street date 2/15/00.
Supplements: Animated Bios; Slide Show; "Naughty Bits" Guide.
Purchase: DVD

Picture/Sound/Extras: D+/C-/D-

Although I've known him longer than I've known any other person on the planet, I still can not make sense of my father. Among other conundrums, there's the issue of his taste in movies. On one hand, the old man's the king of the classic, old-time films; he loves to spout about how great so many of those pictures from Hollywood's alleged "Golden Age" are. He also is big into the Merchant/Ivory kind of drab period drama.

Yet on the other, the guy enjoys smutty trash like Porky's; he tries to defend it on some bizarre level, but I still shake my head over that DVD purchase. Now one can add another puzzling disc in his collection: My Tutor, a generally-forgotten piece of tripe from 1983.

At least Porky's can be defended by virtue of the fact it features some good nudity; that shower scene is an absolute classic. And H.O.T.S. - one of my own faves - is so atrociously bad that it's tremendously entertaining; it's worth owning just for Danny Bonaduce's rendition of "Shake It" during the wet T-shirt contest.

My Tutor, on the other hand, is just another really bad teen comedy from the early Eighties. Unfortunately, I could discern no humor or other redeeming factors in this stinker.

Hunky dimwit Bobby (Matt Lattanzi) can't attend Yale - as his dad (Kevin McCarthy) is forcing him to do - until he passes his high school French final. To that purpose, Dad hires sexy older woman Terry (Caren Kaye) to tutor Bobby so he can make the grade.

Simple, right? Maybe not. From the very start I was confused: did Bobby have to retake the class because he didn't graduate from high school? I didn't see him in summer school, so that appears unlikely. I guess he graduated, so why is Yale so hung up on that final? Hey, I know from experience that colleges barely care what anyone does in the final semester of senior year; I got two "D"s and that didn't change a thing! (Maybe the standards of Cecil's Junior College aren't what they once were.)

Even if we accept the premise that Yale cares what this kid did on his French final although he graduated high school anyway, the story quickly hits other snags. Why does Dad hire Terry to be a live-in tutor? There's no reason for her to live on their property; yes, she needed a place, but it still doesn't make sense that it would be part of the deal. And who in the world goes skinny-dipping her first night on the job? She's just met these people yet she risks embarrassment - at the very least - right off the bat.

All that and little else made sense about the movie. Bobby's a hot guy yet no girl seems interested in him. Actually, I did understand that part, since he's such a little simp. Lattanzi has to be one of the world's worst actors, as he makes Bobby an incredibly limp noodle. He has no presence, sex appeal, or charm, and his absurdly high little voice doesn't help. (Lattanzi's biggest claim to fame remains that he once was married to Olivia Newton-John.)

There's virtually nothing to like about My Tutor. Some of the nudity is okay, but it doesn't rival that found in Porky's - give me full-frontal or give me death! The plot is nothing more than the usual warmed-over "coming of age" junk, and there's nothing clever or interesting about the execution; it's a humorless, dull piece that rambles on until its inevitable end.

The characters couldn't be less interesting or appealing if they tried, and the project seems even more dated than more Eighties pictures; it's like they went out of their way to make it obvious when the movie was made. The closest thing to a redeeming value in the film was its silly disco theme song, "You're My Tutor". It's pretty bad, but not in a class with "Shake It", so I can't even recommend that part of the piece. My Tutor is a total disaster.

The DVD:

My Tutor appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although I couldn't find any data about the original aspect ratio, I'd assume it was 1.85:1 and the DVD presents an open-matte transfer; this means that we lose no information on the sides of the frame and gain (unnecessary) material at the top and bottom. I saw no evidence that anything was cropped on the sides, and there usually appeared to be plenty of space at the top, so my guess remains that this thing's open-matte.

The image itself looks pretty bad. Sharpness is a major concern. On a few occasions, the picture seems acceptably crisp, but for the most part, it appears very fuzzy and unfocussed. Indoors, outdoors, low-light, bright light - you name the situation and it looks flat and dull with a very soft appearance. Despite that, I still saw a surprising amount of moiré effects and jagged edges; those usually accompany excessively sharp transfers, so to find them in such a bland-looking DVD seems unbelievable. Print flaws are actually pretty rare; I noticed a little grain and occasional scratches and speckles, but that was it.

Colors seemed vaguely accurate and bright but they also came across as muddled; oversaturation appeared to be a problem as many hues simply looked overly heavy. Black levels seemed dark but were excessively dense and revealed little nuance, while shadow detail was weak; low-light scenes tended to appear too dim and hazy. My Tutor doesn't look horrible, but it seems quite poor, especially in regard to the terrible softness that dominates the film.

The movie's monaural sound doesn't seem much better. It also appears very flat and dull, with little range or spark. Dialogue sounds bland and muffled, though it remained intelligible (a good thing, since Rhino didn't bother to add subtitles). Effects were thin and tinny, and music - that horrible music! - was similarly unengaging and drab. For a film from 1983, the audio isn't atrocious, but it seems weak nonetheless.

Also quite lame are the DVD's supplements. We get "animated biographies" for Kaye, Lattanzi and McCarthy; this means that instead of the usual stillframe information, the text is presented as a running piece that scrolls up the screen. How is this supposed to be an improvement over the static method? I have no clue; it just seemed like a gimmick.

Speaking of which, the DVD provides a special menu to easily access "the naughty bits". That means the program describes the action for some of the sexier scenes - such as "Skinny-dipping 2" - and the menu allows you to jump right to that segment. The insert card in the DVD's case also highlights the chapters that include allegedly hot material. This utility would be more useful if My Tutor actually included any good skin, but since all we get is decent at best - some of the skinny-dipping shots aren't bad - it usefulness is limited.

Finally, the DVD includes a "slide show". This presents 11 publicity stills from the production and presents them in a running program; it takes the cute route and attempts to make them look like they're part of a yearbook, complete with inscriptions. It's a pretty dull piece, though they do get racy at the end when the final note reads something like "I'll try Greek next year!"

But that's about as off-color as My Tutor gets. This piece of trash was crummy when it was new 17 years ago; what would possess anyone to want to see it now is a mystery to me. A few seconds of decent topless scenes don't make up for the other terrors that abound in this horrible movie. The DVD itself offers bad picture, below average sound, and few extras. My Tutor lacks the camp fun of other films and the sex appeal of parts of others which ultimately makes it a complete waste of time.

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