I learned last week that nearly half of my confirmation students are obsessed with The Outsiders. They read the S.E. Hinton book for English class and watched the 1983 Francis Ford Coppola movie over winter break, and now both girls (what? I have five kids in class–two is nearly half) watch it constantly.
I had never read the book or seen the movie, and since I will never read or watch any of the Twilight books or movies, I thought this was a good chance to check out something my youth (as we say in the church) are excited about.
Well, holy buckets. I’m sorry, girls, but this movie is bananas. I haven’t read the novel yet, so I don’t know who bears the most blame for the “morbid sentimentality” and general weirdness of the story, but the fact that watching it is like watching Gone with the Wind, Oklahoma!, West Side Story, and Meet Me in St. Louis all at once? Mr. Coppola, I’d like to see you in my office.
When I wrote that list of movies, I looked at it and thought, “Shoot! I would love to see a movie that is like watching all of those at once!” But I did not love The Outsiders, because what it is actually like is all the maudlin sunrise / sunset scenes from Gone with the Wind, all the Judd Fry scenes from Oklahoma!, the death scenes from West Side Story, and the Halloween scenes from Meet Me in St. Louis. And if that still sounds awesome (what can I say?), remember: in The Outsiders, nobody sings.
I can’t say I enjoyed the movie, exactly, but I am delighted to have seen it. Because: Matt Dillon. Patrick Swayze. Emilio Estevez. Tom Cruise. Rob Lowe. And Ralph “wax on, wax off” Macchio.
Do you remember what these guys looked like in 1983? I will tell you: they looked brand new. Matt Dillon looks like one of those molded wax figures you get at the science museum or the zoo–smooth and fresh and perfect. Ralph Macchio looks just how you remember him from the Karate Kid movies, but dirtier and more heartbreaking. Rob Lowe looks . . . well, exactly the same, only 29 years more so.
I’m not saying these actors look old and haggard now, but they don’t look like teenagers. Because, as Ponyboy reminds us (with an assist from Robert Frost), “nothing gold can stay.”
To get a sense of this crazy movie, check out the official music video. You didn’t know Stevie Wonder sang the Outsiders theme song? Well, you do now!
Your turn: What movie did you love as a teenager that you find a little ridiculous now?