NEW YORK, NOV. 20 -- There's something about a good spaghetti-strap Fruit-of-the-Loom ratty-ribbed T-shirt that says, "Uh-oh, somebody in this family's about to get whupped upside the haid."
You know it and I know it -- anybody who shows up in a movie, especially a Lifetime Network movie, wearing that shirt is automatically guilty of wife-beating, incest, womanizing, and eating TV dinners with his fingers.
Probably the finest spaghetti-strap T-shirt from hell was the husband of Delores Claiborne in the Stephen King movie, the one who liked to crack Kathy Bates cross the back with a two-by-four because she back-talked him too much.
This week's flick is called "Delinquent," and it includes an excellent candidate for the Spaghetti Strap Hall of Fame, even though Jeff Paul does most of his angry-cop-beating-up-on-his-teenage-son scenes without actually resorting to redneck undergarments.
He's a hardass whiskey-guzzling cop in a little upstate New York town who's raising a boy who JUST WON'T LISTEN. And it turns out that he's right, as 15-year-old Desmond Devenish shows what can happen if you spend every waking hour dreaming about weird nookie.
Desmond eventually gets tired of the homemade whup-ass and decides he likes it better over at the empty summer house where somebody left a videotape of a hot babe and some prescription drugs that remind him of his dead mother. Pretty soon the boy is acting out scenes from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," if you know what I mean, and I think you do, and talking to himself in the mirror while fantasizing about what he could do with a switchblade or a pistol.
When the girl who lives in the house comes back a little early, Tragedy Results.
This is one of those European-style flicks where you can't be sure what Desmond is doing and what he's just fantasizing about, but it never gets boring, partly because of the soundtrack by punksters Gang of Four and by the fact that first-time director Peter Hall is pretty dang good with a camera, even though he's a little chincy on the blood quotient.
It's one of those movies that falls between the cracks -- not wild enough for the drive-in, not intellectual enough for the Cannes Film Festival. No stars that would get it noticed at the mall multiplex. All it is, is a pretty dang good two hours that will have you guessing right up till the end. That's worth something, right?
Two dead bodies. Two breasts. Dope-smoking. Teddy-bear burning. Gratuitous "Marine Hymn." Excellent sex-with-the-teacher fantasy sequence. Virginia Woolf novel-ripping. Face-spitting. Tree-beating. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Jeff Paul, as the dad, for saying "Maybe we oughta have a little talk about the birds and the bitches" and "You like underwear so much? - PUT IT ON, wise guy!"; Desmond Devenish, as the intense kid who says
"He attacked me -- he's dangerous"; Shawn Batten as the high school girl who has the hots for an older guy ("It's just a party"); and Marisa Townshend as the hot teacher ("Don't you wanna touch me?").
Three stars. Joe Bob says check it out. (You can email Joe Bob at JoeBob@upi.commailto:JoeBob@upi.com, or snail-mail him at 532 La Guardia Place #113, New York, NY 10012.)