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Fox Home Entertainment presents
My Bodyguard (1980)

"You and me are gonna have a little talk after school."
- Marvin Moody (Matt Dillon)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: January 21, 2002

Stars: Chris Makepeace, Matt Dillon, Adam Baldwin
Other Stars: Ruth Gordon, Martin Mull, John Houseman, Joan Cusack
Director: Tony Bill

Manufacturer: CMCA
MPAA Rating: PG
Run Time: 01h:36m:19s
Release Date: January 29, 2002
UPC: 024543029168
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+C+B- C-

DVD Review

There is at least one of them in every school, the cool tough guy who everyone is afraid of. In this 1980 film, teen heartthrob Matt Dillon (Drugstore Cowboy, Wild Things), in his second film role, plays Marvin Moody, the slick bully, complete with greased back hair, skin tight jeans and blue satin jacket who holds a reign of terror over his classmates. He and his buddies have a protection racket going, extorting lunch money from all the kids in their grade for being their bodyguard from the scary Ricky Linderman (Adam Baldwin—no relation), who is rumored to have killed a number of people, including his own brother. When newcomer Clifford Peache (Chris Makepeace, hot off his breakthrough role in Meatballs) arrives and gets on the wrong side of Moody by not going along with the payment plan, he is a marked man. When he tells his father (Martin Mull, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman), who manages the hotel where they live, of his problems, his call to the principal aggravates the situation—not the kind of thing you want to do with a bully.

Clifford is an average, but quick witted kid, despite the influence of his gin swilling, man chasing grandmother (Ruth Gordon) who haunts the hotel bar. His solution to the problem is to recruit Linderman as his bully, since, in point of fact, nobody really knows much about the mysterious boy. He is promptly turned down, but after Linderman witnesses Moody and his entourage exact a bit of humiliation on Peache, he concedes to confront Moody and his gang on behalf of the students, who, with this "killer" behind them defiantly stand up to the bully. Having lost face in front of the entire school, Moody is out for revenge, and while he stood up for Clifford once, Linderman isn't about to become his goon. What follows is the building of a friendship against a Hollywood high school power struggle, where might makes right, and the underdog may emerge as victor, but not without a price to pay.

I first saw this film as a teen when it was previewed in 1980, when at the time I understood Clifford's position all too well. Twenty some years later, the film still has that feel good, buddy thing going for it, but its message may not be exactly the kind I would condone as an adult. Still, the acting is well done, the paybacks are rewarding, and the plot has enough ups and downs to keep it interesting. The adult roles add some interesting and humorous sub plots, and there are lots of unexpected twists. It definitely has that 1980s' vibe to it, and is worth watching for the clothing styles alone. Look for cameos by John Houseman and a young Joan Cusack (in her first film), whose father, Dick, also appears as the school principal. My Bodyguard has held up well as a teen flick; a tale of the underdog, trying to gain the upper hand in the face of a relentless tyrant set on dominating his peers. The outcome shouldn't surprise anyone, but the ride is hard fought and rewarding.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: Presented in both anamorphic 1.85:1 and a 1.33:1 open matte transfer, the presentation is relatively free of defects, but has a fair amount of grain for most of its duration. Colors are somewhat muted, though I suspect the elements used here were pretty close to the source, as evidenced by the aparently newly done title credits which are extremely punchy (the original being in the TV spots also included), but don't match the look of the film. There is some edge enhancement in places, and the image sharpness tends to be uneven; a little soft one shot, fine the next. I was a little disappointed, but considering its budget, this is probably the best we'll see it. I will commend Fox for including both aspect ratios, which I'd rather see than a full-frame only treatment for "family" titles.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Three audio options are available: an English Dolby Stereo mix, plus English and French mono. Realistically, you'll have a hard time differentiating the stereo and mono mixes for the most part, as the stereo field is rarely utilized. Sound quality is reasonable, and what I would expect for a film of this age and type. The French track is a little more sibilant.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Extras include the theatrical trailer, and 5 TV spots, the first three of which differ only in Ruth Gordon's quote (she has some of the best lines in the film). It is interesting to note that the title graphic looks like it should here, a pale orange in a very late 1970s' style face, while the main feature has it changed to a more modern (and overused) "Mistral" font in vibrant blue.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

A well executed story of friendship and adversity, where the underdog takes it to the big bad bully with the help of his friends. My Bodyguard harkens back to the classic high school picture, with no drugs, no sex and only mild language. The presentation is acceptable if not outstanding, and although I question the title reconstruction, in the end it is a solid film that well deserves at least a rental.


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