Nov 5, 2012

The Chicken Chronicles

The movies have been portraying teenage boys as "girl-crazy," unable to think of anything but curves and breasts, since Mickey Rooney's Andy Hardy series of the 1930s, but the "teen sex comedy," about tongue-lagging teenage virgins trying desperately to find willing partners for heterosexual intercourse, is characteristic of the 1980s.  The Chicken Chronicles is arguably a precursor, but far superior.

1. The teen sex comedies minimize beefcake. Occasionally a boy takes his shirt off, but it's hard to tell because you're busy hiding your eyes from the endless closeups of the breasts of girls in bikinis walking along the beach or squirting each other with water as they wash their cars.  But The Chicken Chronicles minimizes cheesecake to give us shot after shot of the shirtless, nude, and underwear-clad David (19 year old Steve Guttenberg, in his first credited role), not to mention a shirtless shot of the surprisingly muscular Gino Baffa as his younger brother, Charlie.

And teen idol Clark Brandon.

2. The teen sex comedies minimize buddy bonding.  Best friends exist, but only to act as sounding boards, confidants, and instigators.  In The Chicken Chronicles, David actually seems to care for his best friend, Mark (Branscombe Richmond).

3. The teen sex comedies are about trying to get laid.  Although David has the usual choice between the hot girl he pines for and the plain girl who cared for him all along, the main plot threads involve his job at the chicken joint and the threat of being shipped to Vietnam (the movie takes place in 1969).

4. In the teen sex comedies, the teenagers spend a lot of time competing to see who is the most homophobic. Every third word they say is "fag."  In The Chicken Chronicles, anti-gay slurs are absent.  Gay people don't exist, but erasure is a lot better than hatred.

Unfortunately, the movie has been almost forgotten; it is not available on DVD.  And Gino Baffa made two more movies and dropped out of sight.  But Steve Guttenberg has had a long and extraordinarily gay-positive career.