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Schools have plenty, I suppose,
Of classmates easy to befriend,
The kind that never give you cause to fret,
But schools are also home to those
Who like to bully and pretend
That they’re the toughest kids they ever met.

If you are having troubled days
With greedy bullies on the prowl,
Get yourself a bodyguard to sturdily defend,
But difficulties still can faze
The biggest bodyguards that scowl,
And even they could use a caring friend.

Rating: PG

My VC has a habit of recommending films from the 70s and 80s I’ve never heard of, and this is only the most recent. My Bodyguard is a respectable high school film, sometimes cute and sometimes hard to watch.

After starting at a new school and antagonizing the local bully Moody (Matt Dillon), young Clifford (Chris Makepeace) sees a way out of this abuse by enlisting the local scary kid Ricky Linderman (Adam Baldwin) as his bodyguard. While Linderman is the subject of murderous gossip and does the least he possibly can for Cliff, Cliff recognizes him as a boy deeply in need of a friend and reaches out when no one will. Throughout the film, I kept thinking how much this reminded me of a feature length episode of Hey, Arnold!, the Nickelodeon show about a good city-dwelling kid who helps people. The movie shares certain similarities with the show such as the boy’s eccentric grandmother (Ruth Gordon in the film), his family’s business (a hotel in the film vs. a boarding house in the show), and a plot about bullies and misunderstood potential friends that easily could have been shortened to episode length. This comparison isn’t a complaint since I’ve always liked Hey, Arnold!, and it’s interesting to think how films like this might have influenced it.

Having had a little experience with them in the past, I personally can’t stand bullies, the kind who lord their toughness over the weak and ambush the helpless. My Bodyguard doesn’t show bullying at its worst, but there are still several scenes that made me angry at cruel intimidators whom no one will stop. Of course, this is meant to make their just desserts sweet for everyone else, and though the comeuppance was slow in coming, it was realistic enough to be satisfying and encourage viewers to fight their own battles.

My Bodyguard isn’t quite a high school classic, but it incorporates some realistic darker elements to make the friendship between Clifford and Linderman difficult but rewarding. It also serves as one of those before-they-were-famous films, with recognizable young faces like Dillon and Joan Cusack, as well as the debut for Jennifer Beals (in a very small role) and Adam Baldwin (known as Jayne Cobb to us Firefly fans). Baldwin is perhaps the best here, turning in a quietly damaged performance that anticipated good things to come.

Best line: (Moody) “You broke my nose!”   (Linderman) “It looks better that way!”

Ranking: List Runner-Up

© 2015 S. G. Liput

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