To be truthful, it’s a good concept and I didn’t want to pass up the chance to direct a potential commercial hit. I could possibly redeem myself for passing up on American Pie and The Girl Next Door. The script changes I suggested were thoughtful, but too aggressive.
It all came down to erections… boners, I should say, in order to speak appropriately to the target audience. God knows that I wasn’t trying to make this script something that it wasn’t supposed to be. But maybe just a little texture, a little more clever wouldn’t hurt, right? At one point, one of the producers said to me, “If we aren’t giving 16 year-old boys instant boners with this film, then we’re not doing our job.” He’s right. “Is there a way to measure that in our test audience?” I asked.
“Write poems for Granta and just give us the funny stuff,” a previous agent once reprimanded me. And she was right, I suppose. But honestly, and if my agent is reading this… I wasn’t trying to make a Merchant/Ivory film out of a teen sex comedy. American Pie meets Sense & Sensibility…
So, it goes. Another job down the toilet. I hope they do well. The producer is actually a decent, intelligent guy and the film has a sweet side that I hope comes through. Maybe I should just accept that I didn’t get into this business to give 16 year-olds boners. Not that it isn’t a noble and necessary endeavor. But, as I recall, it’s not terribly hard to give a 16 year-old boy a boner. In fact, I can recall defining moments that unleashed a flood of pubescent hormones in my past. When I was a little kid, I saw Beverly D’Angelo take her top off in Hair. She continued to haunt me through National Lampoon’s Vacation series. The memory is so crisp that I couldn’t bear to look her in the eye when I saw her at a Hollywood soiree a few years ago.
Pam Grier could have walked on screen in a nun’s habit and I would have shot to full mast in less time than separates Olympic sprinters. Then Madonna did just that, challenging sexual taboos and monopolizing an unreasonable section of real estate in my mind.
I was tormented and conflicted about which female cast member of St. Elmo’s Fire to create fantasies around. I knew that Ally Sheedy was adorable and much more practical but God, try as I did, I couldn’t get Demi Moore out of my mind. As for Mare Winningham…
And the fact that Phoebe Cates hasn’t aged at all since I saw her in Fast Times, makes me question my own emotional development – am I just perceiving her that way? Frozen in my adolescent memory in a red bikini by the pool.
So, there’s nothing wrong with giving 16 year-old boys boners. Let’s face it, in this business… big boners equals big money. But I think this generation of 16 year-olds may be a little hard to reach… or move, so to speak. With easy access to the most graphic images online, what could possibly impress them? (I hate to think what nightmarish images they may recall years from now.) I guess that’s why I thought we could try to beef up the “story” elements. A little old-fashioned imagination. Could be worth a shot.
But I’ll leave all that up to the boner experts in Hollywood. And maybe I just feel a little stupid as a grown man working to arouse 16 year-olds in dark movie theaters across the country. It’s a little creepy.
But, it was a job.