Secret Admirer is a clever-ish update on the oft-retold classic Cyrano de Bergerac for the ‘80s raunchy teen comedy. Kino Lorber has given it a Blu-ray special edition.
Secret Admirer after a rough start becomes a clever screwball comedy-inspired play on Cyrano de Bergerac. Teens fall in love and adults’ lives are complicated in this tale of mistaken love letters and cross-communication.
In the first fifteen minutes of Secret Admirer, you may be prone to turn it off. It runs the gambit of raunchy teen sex comedy clichés.
- Hero Kid a fucking slob? Check.
- The “nerdy heroine” isn’t Nerdy or unattractive at all? Check.
- Jockular Douchebag College Dude grooming High School Girl? Check.
- Abriant use of degrogatory homophobic slurs? Check.
- Teens that are 16 going on 25? Check.
- Friends of Slob Hero Kid Insufferable assholes? Check.
- Slob Hero Kid’s younger brother a little shitty human of criminal in training? Check.
- Casting of Courtney Gains? Check.
Though around the twenty-minute mark, when the letters that Michael (C Thomas Howell) and Debbie (Kelly Preston) think they are writing gets into the hands of their parents … that’s when the movie becomes more than just the string of clichés. It’s the work by Dee Wallace Stone, Cliff Deyoung, Fred Ward, and Leigh Taylor-Young as the parents that makes this a truly wonderful comedy. The letters get crisscrossed into the adults’ hands and produces the kind of mixed-up situations that would have made Preston Strugess proud.
In fact, whenever the kids are on screen the film nearly falls apart. It isn’t that the love triangle of Howell, Preston, and Lori Loughlin isn’t appealing. It’s that we’ve seen this played out hundreds of times before with the same result. There isn’t much to make it stick or work beyond the standard plot mechanism that comes with this type of plot.
One wishes that the adults had more screen time as their complicated messy situation is the meat of the entire film. Stone, DeYoung, Ward, and Taylor-Young understand exactly the film they’re in and play it to the hilt. DeYoung and Taylor-Young are hilarious once paired together as the Night School Student and Teacher that begin something they’re not really sure they want to do. Equally hilarious are Ward and Stone as the supposed jilted spouses – no one plays anger funnier than Ward and Stone’s teary-eyed emotional breaks only compound the humor of their work together. Their work all ends in an all-out food fight at a game night.
Again, if only Secret Admirer had been more about these mid-life couples and less about the annoying teenager love clichés.
The transfer provided by MGM for this Blu-Ray release is a handsome image. The image is always sharp and rarely has any blemishes, scratches, or dirt. All in all it’s a solid Blu-Ray with surprising depth and good color reproduction.
They include the following;
- Audio Commentary by Director David Greenwalt, Co-Writer Jim Kouf, and Associate Producer Lynn Kouf, Moderated by Historian/Filmmaker Daniel Kremer
- Radio Spots
- Theatrical Trailer
The all-new Audio Commentary by Director David Greenwalt, Co-Writer Jim Kouf, and Associate Producer Lynn Kouf, Moderated by Historian/Filmmaker Daniel Kremer begins with introductions for this relaxed commentary track. Some of the details include how they wrote the script initially for Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner; their changing it from an adult film to a teenage romp; filming at Burbank High School in Los Angeles – a larger discussion about the various locations they filmed at throughout the commentary; the casting of the various supporting roles and how the various unknown actors at the time have become very in-demand actors’ decades later – a larger conversation about the various actors throughout the commentary track; various production anecdotes and discussion of how they approached the material; and much more. The Track is much more of an extended conversation between friends “down memory lane” with quite a bit of the “describing what’s on-screen”. Those that are fans of the film will like this commentary track.
Radio Spots (1:33) – three 30-second radio spots play over a production still from the film.
Rounding out the special features are trailers for Secret Admirer (1:33), The Experts (1:32), Up the Creek (3:17), Losin’ It (1:27), The Allnighter (1:07), Get Crazy (1:32), The Wild Life (2:00), Gotcha! (1:35), The Secret of My Success (2:09)
The Final Thought
Secret Admirer is best when it’s dealing with adult characters. Kino Lorber has produced a solid Blu-Ray edition for fans of the film.
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