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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lucas is a well-acted and well-scripted '80s coming-of age film that will be too mature for most tweens. Iffy behavior includes mockery, lying, and teen drinking. Parents are absent from children's lives. Profanity includes "f--k" and "s--t." Naked boys (a micro-glance of buttocks is seen) speak of penis size and erections in the locker room. Lucas suggests a bully’s erection indicates homosexuality. In retaliation, the bully rubs hot massage cream on Lucas's genitals, although no nudity is seen. There's a brief shot of panties under a tennis skirt, and Lucas is hospitalized after being caught in a football pileup.
What's the story?
LUCAS is a quirky coming-of-age story centering on Lucas (Corey Haim), an "accelerated" (by two grades) 14-year-old boy with a passion for insects. Lucas lucks out when he befriends newcomer Maggie (Kerri Green) and hangs out with her over the summer. To impress her, Lucas lies about his family and pretends to be friends with the popular kids. But when school starts, Lucas is humiliated at the first pep rally. When Maggie falls for the school quarterback (Charlie Sheen), Lucas talks his way onto the team in a last-ditch attempt to get her attention, but he fumbles the big pass and is crushed in a pileup. However, his bravado wins over even the jocks who called him a freak. The team gives him a cool jacket; Lucas is ecstatic.
Is it any good?
Though this movie takes its time developing, a terrific young cast and understated comic sensibility make this heartwarming mid-'80s sleeper a winner. Lucas is an honest portrayal of the highs and lows of adolescent life. Viewers may cringe and even laugh at Lucas' outrageous antics, but they'll also sympathize with him. That's because no matter how clever Lucas is at covering the pain of being rejected, he's still the outsider who desperately wants to fit in.
The supporting characters are impressively complex as well. In most films of this sort, Charlie Sheen's football player would be the obvious villain. Playing against type of the stereotypical coldhearted jock, Sheen's character looks out for Lucas, even while he's falling for the girl Lucas loves. The casting is good all around. Excellent early performances from Haim and Sheen, as well as Winona Rider in her film debut, do much to place this teen-angst film a cut above most.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about bullying in Lucas. What should you do if you're bullied or see someone being bullied?
How is this movie similar to other coming-of-age tales? How is it different?
Does this movie still seem relevant? If you could update it, how would you do it?
- In theaters: March 28, 1986
- On DVD or streaming: March 11, 2003
- Cast: Charlie Sheen, Corey Haim, Jeremy Piven, Winona Ryder
- Director: George C. Seltzer
- Studio: Fox Searchlight
- Genre: Drama
- Character strengths: Courage, Empathy, Integrity
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature themes and sexuality.
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