Tuesday, August 19, 2014

There is no such thing as a bad boy.

It was so long ago that I don't even remember what we were talking about, buy I vividly recall my dad asking me something that has stuck with me since the moment he said it. He asked me, his index finger bobbing up and down as he did, Do you think there's more good in the world, or evil? Without hesitation, a young m.brown replied, Good, obviously.

He shook his head. If there was more good in the world, we could do away with the evil. There's equal parts of both. It's a balance. I nodded, because that's what I do when I agree (or more likely, have no f--king clue what to say next). If that's really the case, if such a balance really does exist, then in 1930's Nebraska? Well, there must have been some bad ass motherf--kers. 

Turns out, there was. About five hundred of them.

In 1938's Boys Town, Spencer Tracy plays Father Flanagan, quite possibly the goodest person ever to walk the planet. Fine, goodest isn't a real word, but Father Flanagan as portrayed by Tracy, appears to be the most agreeable, compassionate and understanding man alive. And even more impressive? He never wavers. Not once. 

Boys Town, (loosely?) based on a true story, details the lengths that Father Flanagan went to in creating a place for wayward, well, boys. Initially starting with a half-dozen troublemakers, eventually Flanagan builds a facility/compound housing nearly a hundred times that. Along the way we see ol' Padre use the powers of persuasion to convert many a non-believer. I'm talking adults - investors, and the like, not the kids. 'Cause the boys? They fall in line real fast, see. 

One day, however, trouble blows into the idyllic Town, as Whitey Marsh (an irritating Mickey Rooney, all of 18 years old) struts in, laughing in the face of Father Flanagan's laid-back approach. Whitey, without a doubt, is a real f--ker, Hell bent on destroying every single thing that Flanagan has built, not to mention being a real dick to every kid at the place. In fact, he's such a little shit, I was actually rooting against his inevitable change of heart, even if it made for a real sappy happy ending.
Speaking of happy endings, here are the Yays and Boos for Boys Town. They'd like to give you a happy ending. Sundae. At Friendly's. C'mon, now this is a family picture. Get your head out of the gutter.

  • Thirties insults! Even I'm not hardcore enough to call someone a mush brained sap!
  • There's an all-kid riot that is pretty awesome.It seems like it's being fast-forwarded, but I think the kids are just hopped on goofballs.
  • Italian Salami Guy. Yeah, that's likely a bad way to be known, but he's a good dude, regardless.
  • Same with Window Guy. Likely the most generous man in the flick.
  • Father Flanagan is pretty much a Jedi Master. *waves hand* You do want to donate to Boys Town. I'm pretty sure Watto would've donated to their pod-racing team. You know, assuming they had one.
  • Kicking ass for The Lord! Father Flanagan may be a lot of things, but a sucker isn't one of them. Dude sweeps the leg like nobody's business. And can lay you out in one punch, too.
  • Hey, Whitey. Nice haircut, a-hole.
  • I dare you to lie to Father Flanagan. In fact, I double dare you.
  • Hey, you want to fight at Boys Town? Well, step into the ring. Should be a harmless way to settle differences, right? Sure, sure. Unless you fight the kid that Whitey steps to.
  • And finally, the ending. Father Flanagan and his boys literally kick in a building. It's equal parts great and ridiculous. I think more movies should feature kids kicking through walls in the name of justice.
There he is, right there in the middle: Whitey Marsh.
World's biggest a-hole.
  • It's been two weeks, but all I remember is I hated Skinny. What a dick.
  • These little shits get an attitude with Father Flanagan when Christmas turns out a little, say, unspectacular. Oh really, kids? So for Christmas, instead of being gang-raped with a candy cane in juvi, you get an old shoe and some broth and you're going to complain? Turn 'em loose, Padre. Turn. Them. Loose.
  • Flanagan goes and meets some prisoner upstate and let's just say it's a weird scene.
  • But nothing trumps him playing hot-n-cold with Pee Wee, a little punk always looking for candy. This one time, I'm pretty sure the candy was in Flanagan's lap...and let's just say instead of saying warm, warmer, hot! we could have went with awkward, super uncomfortable, CALL THE POLICE!
  • But little Pee Wee? That's not even close to the worst thing that happens to this kid. Nope. Not by 60 miles per hour a mile.
  • And finally, Mickey Rooney. Sure, Whitey's a thankless character, and Rooney gives an insane performance, but my God Whitey may be the worst character ever. I want to get a shirt that says Kill Whitey, but I'm assuming that it won't go over well. You know, anywhere.
It's very fitting that I've recently come across a film where a man routinely professes, there is no such thing as a bad boy.

School starts on Monday. 

I'll be teaching eighth graders.


  1. This sounds like a good movie, and I would get such a kick out of seeing an adolescent Mickey Rooney.

    I am so glad to hear you're teaching again! I bet you're a terrific teacher.

    1. There is something to seeing a young Mickey Rooney. His face and delivery are so recognizable, even heading sixty+ years and the past can't hide him.

      Ah, thanks. I don't know about terrific, no, but reluctant? Oh, yes.

    2. Young Mickey Rooney, with his distinctive expressions and delivery -- that alone is worth seeing the movie for.

      And why would you be reluctant about spending your days with rooms full of hormonally charged adolescents? I don't understand. :-D

  2. Love the boos, lol. Speaking of awkward and uncomfortable, that poster looks a whole lot less innocent from a 2014 viewpoint than it probably did way back in 1938. Never got around to seeing this and not sure I want to, but only because it sounds super cheesy.

    1. Yeah, the image is dicey enough, but 'being born to be hung' also doesn't exactly sit well, either.

      You know, if you like classic films, it's probably worth a watch. But yeah, there's a high level of cheese at times. Deliriously high, in fact.

  3. Nice review! I haven't seen this one, but it does sound pretty interesting. Have fun with 8th graders..my niece is an 8th grader, she has a lot of drama. Hopefully yours are drama free!

    1. Thanks!

      Yeah, 8th graders are a whole different beast, I'm sure of it. I spent most of my prior years in 7th, so we'll see what that extra year brings them. Probably even worse mustaches, and an extra helping of madness, er, drama.

    2. Oh, the horror..er..mustaches!

  4. Love this review bro! Great way to wrap up the series, and again...I'm so happy you were a part of it! Have fun teaching my friend!

    And lol at those boos and that Pee-Wee scene...like...OMG

    1. Ha, thanks man. Though it's not quite the end, yet. One more Tracy film....when I can find the time to write. Yeesh.

      That Pee Wee scene! My goodness did that get a little um, uncomfortable.