© 1980 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

My Bodyguard (1980)

I’m continuing my little project of watching films I remember seeing on TV when I was a kid. Unlike Super Fuzz and They Call Me Bruce?, I remembered My Bodyguard only very vaguely, although I seem to recall that several of the girls in my elementary school had crushes on the young Canadian actor Chris Makepeace. I had know idea that Ruth Gordon, one of my favorites, was in this, or for that matter John Houseman or Martin Mull.

This is artifact from the very end of an era when coming-of-age films, such as Breaking Away and even Meatballs, were actually thoughtful and well made, before the VHS revolution reduced teen films to their lowest common denominator, and young people were only put in films to be  massacred by mask-wearing psychopaths.

Chris Makepeace, who was an in-demand young actor at the time after his role in Meatballs, plays a smart but awkward new student at a Chicago public school who immediately runs afoul with the school bully, played by Matt Dillon in only his second film role. Since he lives in a luxury hotel where his father (Martin Mull) is the manager, and gets picked up from school by a hotel limo, the bullies think he is rich, but he refuses out of principal to turn over his lunch money. He tries to hire the scariest student at school to be his bodyguard, and when he refuses, he works to try to break down the walls he has built around himself to become friends.

Ruth Gordon as his eccentric (as only Ruth Gordon could be) grandmother pops in and out, and even stately John Houseman makes an appearance. In addition to these two veteran actors, a whole generation of young performers got their start with this film, including a young and very pretty Jennifer Beals, a geeky Joan Cusak and a young Adam Baldwin.

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