Review: Zapped! (1982)
Starring: Scott Baio, Willie Aames, and Felice Schachter
Directed By: Robert J. Rosenthal
Written By: Bruce Rubin and Robert J. Rosenthal
As I attempted to start a month ago, Friday will be reserved for “bad” movies. It began with the 1988 remake of The Blob. The 1998 movie The Avengers was supposed to follow, but with the earthquake and tsunami striking Japan on that day, I deemed it a bit tasteless. If you have had the unfortunate experience in watching The Avengers, I think you understand. The idea, of course, is to mix things up. Why just talk about good movies when there are so many more bad ones? With that, I give you Zapped!, an ’80s teen comedy. You know what that means: fully/nearly/semi naked girls!
Zapped! (it’s important to make sure the exclamation point is there) follows Barney (Baio) the school science geek. We know he’s a nerd because we first see him in the school lab wearing glasses…and because his name is Barney, naturally. All isn’t terrible, though, he isn’t picked on. In fact, he has a decent number of friends, including having a best friend in local cool/rich kid Peyton (Aames). I suppose it helps that Barney is growing marijuana for Peyton, but that’s really neither here nor there.
While testing the effects of intoxication on mice (just run with it), there’s an explosion in the lab (after some sort of liquid gets mixed with whiskey accidentally and beer purposely) that leaves Barney unconscious. Upon waking, he discovers that he has telekinesis (or the ability to move objects with his mind)! I know! Peyton along with the nosy senior class president Bernadette (Schachter) soon find out about his powers and try to steer Barney in different directions. Barney, being an overall nice guy, tends to side with Bernadette on principle, but he still has his fun along the way.
The idea behind this is nothing new as I’m sure you all have noticed. The obvious Spider-Man (and the later Teen Wolf as well) parallels are all there, but aren’t taken very seriously. In fact, even while Bernadette acts like the angel on Barney’s shoulder to Peyton’s devil, she laughs along with many of the hijinks she witnesses. Being that this movie is really just an excuse for drunken fart jokes (excruciating lame ones at that) and a good amount of nudity, this shouldn’t be surprising at all.
As for the supporting cast and their subplots go, it’s always fun to see Scatman Crothers (here he plays the baseball coach) and his is the only legitimately funny performance in the entire movie. We’re forced to witness an implied oral sex scene from the school’s principal (Robert Mandan) with a woman he meets through the local personal ads. It’s very difficult to take Aames (who would later join Baio on “Charles in Charge”) seriously as a cool character and seeing him try to woo Heather Thomas (hubba hubba), who plays the snobby Jane, while trying to one-up her college age boyfriend at every turn is just awful.
The bulk of the movie is centered on Baio and Schachter as they get to know one another and begin to date. That includes the typical dating montage that all movies like this are forced to have. It doesn’t help that the song playing through it (as well as the rest of the soundtrack for that matter) is probably the cheesiest song I have ever heard in my life. Believe me, that’s saying something. Schachter’s (who would go on to be in “The Facts of Life”) Bernadette isn’t very well defined as you’d expect, but she’s cute enough to pass. Baio is young Baio here: awkward and geeky. Just as the role needs him to be.
Obviously trying to emulate the same sort of sex-fueled B-movie that would inspire the likes of Porky’s (released the same year), Zapped! isn’t trying overly hard. It relies on the classic formula: characters doing stupid things, add alcohol, some naked females and a lot of fart sounds. Rinse and repeat. The only difference is that our hero has a superpower to cause all sorts of havoc with. The issue is simply that (Scatman aside), this just isn’t very funny. Not even in a “oh god, that’s stupid” kind of way. Everything is just flat, but let’s be honest: this is what anyone watching this should expect.
Bottomline: Zapped! is really bad. REALLY bad. Not even a Carrie spoof in it’s finale can make it overly entertaining. It does go by quick, however, even if the stupidity involved does hurt the brain a bit. Crothers is funny and Thomas looks great, but that’s not enough for anyone to recommend this movie.
At least it’s not Freddy Got Fingered, I suppose.
As an aside: why does Hollywood think putting glasses on a girl makes them unattractive? It doesn’t work. Ever. Yet they still try it to this day. Stop it. Please.