My Bodyguard (1980)

My Bodyguard (1980) movie poster

director Tony Bill
viewed: 01/19/2015

I always liked My Bodyguard.  My mom took me to see it back in 1980 when it came out.  I always liked Chris Makepeace, who I mainly knew from this movie and Meatballs (1979).  He has such an understated likability and charm, a natural real kind of kid you feel like you know him in real life.

My Bodyguard has a great cast including Makepeace (as Clifford), Matt Dillon as the high school bully Melvin Moody, Adam Baldwin as the bodyguard of the title, with Joan Cusack, Martin Mull, John Houseman, and the absolutely wonderful Ruth Gordon as Clifford’s fun-loving grandmother.  Even some more obscure actors in the movie are also excellent, specifically Paul Quandt as Carson, Clifford’s deep-voiced little school chum.

The film is shot extensively on location in Chicago, capturing the city in great detail and natural character.

Clifford and his family (dad Martin Mull, grandmother Gordon) has just moved into Chicago proper, living at a downtown hotel that his father manages.  Moving into an inner city public high school, Clifford runs afoul right away of class bully Moody, who gets kids like Carson and other to pay him protection money.  Ostensibly, he is protecting them from Ricky Linderman (Baldwin), the big kid in school who is rumored to have murdered a boy and lots of other heinous crimes.  Clifford decides to approach the big quiet loner to see if he’ll act as his bodyguard to protect him from Moody, finding out about Linderman’s real background.

My Bodyguard is one of those teen films that really captures a sense of the reality of life, school, kids, everything.  I’d been intending to watch it with my kids for some time and they enjoyed it.  They particularly liked Ruth Gordon and Paul Quandt, though they thought that the drama didn’t quite reach the full crescendo that it should have.

But I really like the good-natured naturalism of the film.  The characters are deftly drawn but (to me, at least) feel so much like real life.  I liked the film back in the 1980’s when I first saw it and I like it today, too.  I think it’s a great little film.

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