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The Young Graduates (1971)

by on 2011/09/24

“And give up a $10,000-a-year job?”

* *

According to a 2010 study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, teenagers have a biological excuse for their rash adolescent behaviour and poor decision-making. The excuse is right there in the overactive teenage mesolimbic dopamine system.

Big words, I like them.

According to the research results, teens were more likely to make risky decisions to generate more and bigger rewards. Study participants – from 8-years-old to 30 – performed a learning task in which they were asked to sort an abstract image into one of two categories. They were given feedback displaying the correct response and rewarded with cash for each right answer.

Researchers were looking at how each participant’s brain responded to “reward prediction error” (or the difference between an expected outcome of an action and the actual outcome). Teenage brains had a larger dopamine surge than the older participants when these young folks discovered the results of their answers and the size of their rewards.

In The Young Graduates we get to see teen mesolimbic dopamine systems in hyperdrive.

Bad decisions abound. And man, it was irritating to watch.

The action centres around the insipid, insufferable, intolerable Mindy (Patricia Wymer) who is supposed to be a “precocious star-student.” Based on her performance in this film, she’s not much more than a whiny-voiced, flaxen-haired ninny. During one pivotal scene, if it can be described as pivotal,  Mindy asks her equally insipid boyfriend why he treats her like a possession, a piece of  “furniture.”

Perhaps it is because Mindy’s got all the charm of a barcalounger? A corduroy barcalounger.

 Oh, it isn’t all Mindy’s fault. In all fairness, she’s quite lovely and this is an drive-in, exploitation film made by the grindhouse that is Crown International. She’s used mostly as pretty little accessory to some of the interesting cars and motorbikes they secured for this film.

Mindy gets into all kinds of trouble. She sets her sights on a gangly young teacher named Jack Thompson (Tom Stewart). He’s equally irritating with all the charisma of a particle board writing desk.

Teacher and student decide to start a ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’ love affair. Mr. Thompson has a bad relationship with his shrewish wife Gretchen (Jennifer Ritt). Gretchen is a gym teacher. ‘Nuff said.

Mr. Thompson and Mindy romp around irritatingly, making a series of terrible, terrible decisions. Mindy worries she’s pregnant with the married Mr. Thompson’s child so she decides to pick up hitchhikers while driving around in her friend’s car, gets kidnapped by a gang of crazed bikers and …Zzzzzz. Sorry, I dozed off there.

Mostly, it is all very, very irritating.

I guess you’d worry for the teenage Mindy if she wasn’t so ridiculous.

The worst decision on display in this campy 70s exploitation flick is the great Bruno Kirby using this tired, poorly-executed vehicle to launch his terrific film career. Kirby plays a hot-headed pal to all the empty-headed blonde California girls and boys, sticking out like a New York sore thumb.

Even a hint of what was to come from incredible Kirby was obscured by this movie’s deafening levels of awful and annoying.

Maybe I’m getting old but watching teenagers doing stupid things for 100 minutes is not how I like to spend an afternoon. This back to school movie gets a failing grade.

* *

100 minutes

Rated R for nudity, drug use and annoying teenagers who should get off my lawn and turn that loud music down

One Comment
  1. Markus permalink

    what’s up with the sound track to this movie, brady bunch happy music to scary adult themes….tra la la la la (wow, we almost got raped a few minutes ago – groovy). This movie was highly irritating.

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