director Adrian Lyne
This 1980 teen issues film set in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley swings between aspects of realism and eventual “after school special”. It was British director Adrian Lyne’s first feature film and it features a cast including Jodie Foster, Scott Baio, Sally Kellerman, Randy Quaid, and Cherie Currie, the then lead singer of Joan Jett’s The Runaways. It also features a soundtrack by the inimitable Giorgio Moroder including the constant theme and hit single “On the Radio” by Donna Summer.
The “foxes” of the title are a group of teenage girls dealing with life in their various broken homes and the sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll for which teens all seem to strive. Foster plays Jeanie, the most level-headed of the gang, who also plays mother to her own mother (Kellerman) as well as her brood of buddies. Currie plays platinum blonde Annie, the most troubled of the crew, who parties hard and swings out with biker dudes and other guys who offer it up. Her dad is a fascist cop. Baio is the sweet young skateboarder who seems to flit around L.A. free from the constraints and cares of his family.
The film is ripe for critique in its genre, portraying the girls as playing at adults, even at one time trying to put on a hoity-toity dinner party only to see it get trashed and ruined. The parents are children themselves, with Kellerman bringing home schlubs and Jeanie’s dad managing a glam band. I’m sure its been parsed that way before, so I won’t attempt to delve into it deeply.
There are aspects of the film that really capture the time and place. The cast is good, especially Baio and the girls. And the milieu of the time, speckled with junk food and its packaging, as well as the L.A. landscapes are captured well in the set design and cinematography.
Only the film is in some ways an after school special in lots of ways. I’ve never considered Lyne a particularly able director, though he did have his finger on the cultural pulse for a while (Flashdance (1983), 9½ Weeks (1986), Fatal Attraction (1987)), and Foxes, for its qualities doesn’t really overcome its shortcomings and triteness.
That said, there are indeed aspects of the film that connect, be it Jodie Foster, Baio or Currie, the sights of the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, or even the pretty classic Moroder soundtrack. If nothing else, listening to Donna Summer and “On the Radio” hooked some sensibility with me, its melancholy disco tears and joy, connecting to some fragment of my childhood soul. There is something here. But it’s not a great movie.