Totally Awesome

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
Totally Awesome Movie Poster Image
VH1 spoof awesome just for '80s teen film fans.
  • NR
  • 2006
  • 102 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Since this film makes overt what's covert in other '80s teen movies, it's hard to blame Totally Awesome for its borrowed message that encourages one 35-year-old to have sex with teenage girls. Charlie also learns to be himself and encourages others to be themselves.

Violence

A lot of comic violence including: a teenage werewolf kills two people graphically, Charlie gets beaten up several times by the cool kids. A girl breaks her leg and you can see the bone sticking out -- the event is watched by a group of people over and over on the VCR. The coach tells his team to kill Charlie.

Sex

In a dream sequence, Charlie imagines a woman flashing her bare breasts -- within the first three minutes of the movie. There's close, sexual, and silly dancing between teenage Lori and 35-year-old Gabriel, and later Gabriel says he's had sex with her. Yamagashi is gay and is constantly naked in front of Charlie and coming on to him. There's a lot of talk about having sex, but nothing seen.

Language

Some salty language including "ass", "s--t," and "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Gabriel says he takes steroids. Charlie gets drunk after being humiliated at a party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film sarcastically encourages teens to sleep with 35-year-old men. There's some comic violence when the school's teen werewolf kills the guidance counselor. The film also presents the teen years as a time of predation: both being preyed on by bullies your own age and by lascivious adults. But overall, the film has the same message as every '80s teen movie that it spoofs: Be yourself and you'll be rewarded with the girl and popularity.

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What's the story?

Charlie (Mikey Day) and Lori (Dominique Swain) move from Pittsburgh to California. On the first day of school, Charlie finds he's at the bottom of the "cool rankings" list. With him at the bottom is Billie Bunts (Nicki Clyne), who is reviled for making her own clothes and being "oily and poor." Charlie longs to impress popular, big-haired Kimberly (Sweet Valley High's Brittany Daniel) and replace cool-guy Kip (Joey Kern). Meanwhile, Lori is crushed when she learns that dancing has been outlawed because some kids had a dance in a barn and their "feet came loose," killing the kids instantly. When she meets the school's former dance instructor and current janitor Gabriel Chris Kattan), she falls in love and hatches a plan to get dancing legalized again by performing the dangerous starfire dance move after the decathlon.

Is it any good?

Condense all '80s movies into an hour and a half, sprinkle in some really horrible dance moves, and you've got this enjoyable spoof by the channel that brought you I Love the '80s. If the plot sounds insane, it is. But it's not meant to be sane. It's meant to cram in as many references to '80s movies as possible. There are the Dirty Dancing dance practice scenes, with Kattan's perfect Patrick Swayze mullet. There's the fabulously snarky dance number a la Staying Alive (headbands and all). There's the best-friend-as-lover moments a la Some Kind of Wonderful, complete with fingerless knit gloves. And of course there are the big hair and pink leather skirt ensembles with shoulder pads (part of every '80s teen movie).

The true fabulousness of this film will probably be lost on younger generations, since they're unlikely to have the encyclopedic knowledge of the '80s celebrated in the I Love the '80s series of clip shows. There's a reason this movie originally aired on VH1 and not MTV. It's aimed at an older demographic.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why these themes continue to dominate teen movies. Why are older men always so attractive to teen girls in the movies? Why do teens believe, as Charlie says, "I'm 17. My life sucks"? Is it as dangerous to be a teen as the movie portrays?

Movie details

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