Color, 1983, 96m.
Directed by George Bowers
Starring Caren Kaye, Matt Lattanzi, Kevin McCarthy, Clark Brandon, Crispin Glover, Bruce Bauer
Scorpion (Blu-Ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC), Mill Creek (DVD) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9), Rhino, BCI (DVD) (US R1 NTSC)
Southern California teen Bobby Chrystal (Lattanzi) has two problems. First, he's flunking French at school. Second, he can't seem to lose his virginity, a problem that reaches the height of comedic absurdity when his buddies Billy (Brandon) and Jack (Glover) pay an ill-fated visit to a brothel. A possible salvation to both of Bobby's issues arrives when his rich dad (Invasion of the Body Snatchers' McCarthy) decides to hire a live-in tutor, Terry (Kaye), who likes to take naked swims in the pool at night and is still nursing a broken heart over a relationship gone wrong. Of course, it's only a matter of time before these extra home lessons take a romantic turn.
Like most of the Porky's-era '80s teen comedies, My Tutor goes for the raunch with vignettes involving Bobby and his buds getting into trouble with female boxers, jealous boyfriends, and the world's most incompetent hookers, including a topless cameo by Russ Meyer muse Kitten Natividad and the indelible sight of Crispin Glover (on the cusp of getting corkscrewed in Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter) strapped to an S&M wheel in his boxers and spun around by a dominatrix. What sets this one apart is the sweetness of its main narrative, with the underrated Caren Kaye giving her part a lot more heart and depth than you usually find in the subgenre. Sure, she provides the requisite amount of skin herself, but the charismatic actress (who went on to '80s cult immortality as Jason Bateman's mom on the short-lived but memorable sitcom It's Your Move) really sells what could have been a stupid wish fulfillment role and gives it a nice emotional undercurrent. It's a shame for moviegoers that she retired from acting in the mid-'90s (after roles in movies like Teen Witch and Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings), but hopefully her current medical career is a happy one.
The former spouse of Olivia Newton-John, Lattanzi abandoned acting around the same time, though he earned his '80s credentials by roller skating his heart out in Xanadu, getting it on with Jacqueline Bisset in the most memorable scene in 1981's Rich and Famous, and popping up in a few of Olivia's music videos. Surprisingly, he's objectified in this film as much as the actresses, apparently in a bid for a wider audience than usual for T&A teen fluff. Still, it's easy to see why he never became a star; he fits the bill for the role well enough for what's required here, but his reedy voice and lack of star magnetism meant his options were very limited from the start.
My Tutor was one of the earliest and most successful of the '80s sex comedies turned out by Crown International Pictures alongside films like Tomboy, My Chauffeur, Weekend Pass, and Jocks. Directed by George Bowers, who also helmed Crown's The Hearse and the later Private Resort, it's a veritable feast of '80s pop culture right from the opening credits, complete with a bouncy disco-ish theme song and eyeball-searing aerobics outfits. Unlike its Crown peers, this one wound up on VHS from a major studio (MCA/Universal), no doubt to fit snugly alongside its similar films like Private Lessons and Private School, but after that it went the same route as other Crown films on DVD including a mediocre standalone release from Rhino, a reissue from BCI/Eclipse including their 2007 School Dazed box set, and multiple releases from Mill Creek like their 2009 12-film Too Cool for School Collection.
Following the lead of their 2013 Blu-ray of Tomboy, Scorpion cult movie hostess Katarina Leigh Waters appears for optional wraparound segments, though this time there's a new twist as she takes on the persona of Antoinette, her crazed French twin sister who made appearances in a handful of previous releases. The theatrical trailer is also included along with additional ones for Tomboy, The Pom Pom Girls, and House on Sorority Row. As for the transfer, it's comparable to Tomboy; since Crown preserves its titles very well, the film looks quite accurate and bright with lots of gaudy colors splashing all over the screen, while the ever-present flesh tones appear to be accurate. It's hard to imagine this looking any better. The DTS-HD mono audio sounds good given the modest nature of the source material, and an isolated music and effects track is included as well for anyone who feels like throwing on a leotard and bouncing around instead of just watching the movie.
Reviewed on September 19, 2013.