LISTEN TO ME. Directed and written by Douglas Day Stewart; produced by Marykay Powell for Weintraub. Starring Jami Gertz, Kirk Cameron, Tim Quill and Roy Scheider. Rated PG-13.
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Listen to Me makes up in melodrama what it lacks in logic. And most of its characters are shallow stereotypes. Still, as teenpix go, it's not without interest.
For one thing, although it's a kind of buddy picture about two guys and a gal, the female character is the one that ends up being the meatier, three-dimensional role. This is quite unusual. Gertz makes the most of the opportunity, too, turning in an impressive performance.
She plays Monica, a Chicagoan of the working class attending a mythical California college on a debate scholarship. At Kenmont, debaters and their professors are treated like football players and coaches are most everywhere else.
The two men in her life are opposite cliches. Whether because of writing or acting limitations—or probably both—neither Tucker (Cameron) nor Garson (Quill) ever become more than stereotypes of the "poor little rich boy," and the "cracker with pluck."
In other areas than character development, like dialogue, for example, the script fares much better. The practice debates are fun to watch, and the private conversations of the characters ring true to life. The final debate showdown, between Kenmont and Harvard, has the drama and emotional appeal of Rocky crossed with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It's entertaining in spite of the predictability of the conclusion.
Listen to Me should be given good marks for showing that some college students have more on their minds than "when's the next party?" It just has a little trouble following through on these good intentions.
May 24, 1989