The Wild Life (1984)

“It’s casual . . .” In honor of the late great actor Chris Penn (1965-2006), I would like to recommend one of his most underappreciated roles, yes I’m referring to high school wrestler “Tom Drake” in The Wild Life. The film, which was written by Cameron Crowe (Fast Times at Ridgemont High) and directed by Art Linson (Where the Buffalo Roam), concerns a nerd, “Bill Conrad” (Eric Stoltz), who works at a run-down bowling alley and decides to move into a singles apartment where he crashes and burns with the ladies at every opportunity. Forced to get a roommate in order to pay the bills, he opts for Drake, a head-butting wrestler who enjoys harassing his ex-girlfriend, “Eileen” (Jenny Wright). Film has a little bit of everything, including a bogus stag party at a sleazy strip bar, sex in the back of a donut shop, a poodle in a microwave oven and a philosophical, heroin-addicted Vietnam vet named “Charlie” (Randy Quaid). Film also stars Lea Thompson, Ilan Mitchell-Smith (Weird Science) and Rick Moranis, as well as porn star Kitten Natividad as a stripper. Definitely not for all tastes, but if you enjoy sleazy, mindless teen comedies from the 1980s, don’t miss it! Lee Ving of the Los Angeles-based punk rock band Fear portrays the cable guy who helps Drake raid Bill’s refrigerator.

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