Jun 21, 2022

Going to Movies in 1988: Matthew Broderick Plays Gay, the Two Coreys Learn to Drive, and Bob Hoskins Takes His Shirt Off


1988 in West Hollywood was like 1986 and 1987 in West Hollywood.  And 1989, 1990, and 1991.  I abandoned my Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature when my committee got too picky and homophobic.  My first boyfriend Fred moved to L.A. with his Cute Young Thing Matt in tow.  I spent two weeks in Thailand, and "dated" celebrity Richard Dreyfuss.   My days were spent at the gym, in class, at at the Different Light; my evenings on dates, at parties, cruising at Mugi, or renting videos.  Going to the movies was unusual, but I managed to see twelve.

January: None

February: None

March: Biloxi Blues, because who wouldn't want to see Matthew Broderick in anything?  Even if the promo shows him with post-smooch lipstick and promises a sex romp: "The army made him a man, but Daisy gave him basic training."  This one calls out the cadets for anti-Semitism and homophobia.

March (second movie of the month!): Johnny Be Good, because the posters showed the hunky football player (Anthony Michael Hall) being grabbed by a girl and a boy (Robert Downey Jr).  So there must be a gay subtext.  In fact, the girl and the boy openly compete for his affection, and try to talk him into going to the college of their choice.  He drives off into the sunset with both.

April: None.

May: None.

June: Big Business, because it starred gay allies Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin (we later discovered that she is actually gay).  The plot is horrendously silly, something about mismatched identical twins who grow up in rich socialite and hillbilly hick families.  Nature wins out over nurture, as the girls raised in the hick sticks long for the big city, and the girls raised in the big city...well, you get the idea.  Plus they all get boyfriends.

June (second movie!)
: Who Framed Roger Rabbit, because new computer technology allowed toons to interact with live-action characters.  Plus this was the first time you saw Disney and Warner Brother characters sharing a stage.  Plus hunky bear Bob Hoskins takes his shirt off.

July: License to Drive.  We didn't know at the time that the two Coreys (Haim and Feldman) were being passed around like party favors in the ranks of Hollywood ephebophiles.  We only knew that they appeared together all the time, so they must be a gay couple, right?  The plot: while learning to drive (to impress a girl, naturally), the Coreys get into various mishaps and end up destroying Grandpa's car.  

July (second movie of the month): Die Hard, because it starred Bruce Willis, then known as the p.i. who Cybill Shepard called "arrogant" (that is, sexy) on Moonlighting (1985-88) He saves the world from terrorists and gets reunited with the wife he broke up with so they could get reunited. At Christmas.  So why did this movie premiere in July?

August: The Last Temptation of Christ, because Christians were  protesting outside all the theaters: "Please don't see this movie!"  Christians were protesting at all the gay events at the time, and it was fun to see a lot of signs and placards and hear a lot of yelling that didn't target us.   I didn't see the problem: Christ (Willem Dafoe) is tempted to abandon his mission and start a "normal" wife-and-kids life with Mary Magdalene.  But he doesn't.  

September: Moon over Parador, with Richard Dreyfuss as an actor hired to impersonate the dead president of a Latin American country.  He falls in love with the ex-president's mistress.

September (second movie of the month!)
: Running on Empty, with teen star River Phoenix (whom we all thought was gay) as a boy who discovers that his parents are 1960s radicals hiding from the feds.  Also he falls in love with his music teacher's daughter.  Of course.  On October 30, 1993, River had a seizure outside the Viper Room nightclub, five blocks from my house. He died a short time later.

September (third movie of the month!): Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.  The sarcastic bad-movie host gets involved with movie-hating yokels (a nice parody of Jerry Falwell's frothing-at-the-mouth hatred of gay people).  She falls in love with a hot guy.

October: None.

November: None.

December: Torch Song Trilogy.  Not actually a trilogy, but definitely a torch song (sad song about lost love).  Depressed drag queen Arnold (Harvey Fierstein) loses a boyfriend (Brian Kerwin) to a girl, loses another (Matthew Broderick) to murder, adopts a gay teenager (Eddie Castrodad), fights with his mom, and gets back together with boyfriend #1.  Extremely depressing, but you never saw gay people in movies at the time, so even depressing was a triumph.  

December (second movie of the month!): Dangerous Liaisons.  Two 18th-century bffs (Glenn Close, John Malkovich) have fun destroying people's lives.  The original novel by Pierre de Laclos hinted at some same-sex liaisons amid the heterosexual machinations.  Here, it's all about boys and girls.


  1. Kind of weird that Biloxi Blues didn't use the old heterosexist "she made him a man" line as their tagline.

    Johnny Be Good is interesting, just for the bi subtext in the 80s. I now declare the Yoko complex to always be a bisexual love triangle.

    Regarding Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, "New computer technology" Rotoscoping was the old-school way to do that. It's also used for more complex dance, sports, and fight sequences, and in the era of limited animation, was used to do things limited animation couldn't do, like have characters walk toward or away from the POV, transitioning from one plane to another.

    License to Drive is a silly title that plays off the "what do you mean, it's not awesome?" approach by evoking License to Kill. But, yeah, I can't get past knowing about the child prostitution ring.

    Die Hard is, I swear it's a foot fetish movie. Also, Home Alone is kind of the same movie? But without dragging the protagonist's feet through broken glass.

    1. They used rotoscoping? I thought they used CGI, since the toons were able to interact with the live world much more vigorously than before, actually touching people, holding live objects, and so on. Wikipedia says that they used regular animation cells with optical printers for the special effects

    2. Friendly reminder of just how primitive computers were in 1987.

  2. No there is no CGI in "Roger Rabbit" just some very good special effects and animation.

  3. Biloxi Blues: Isn't that the one in which two of the soldiers/recruits try to have sex in the showers, but are caught and expelled? Or have I mixed it up with another soldiers/recruits film?

    1. I completely forgot about the gay soldier who goes to prison.

  4. I was in high school when Torch Song Trilogy came out (the Trilogy were the three short plays that were combined to make the film). I snuck out to a theater on the far side of town and spent the whole time feeling like a spy behind enemy lines, getting messages from my side. Very meaningful movie to me, and Matthew Broderick's seductive moment in the barn was electric. Eddie Castrodad is more my type though.


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