Imagine a 13-year-old Julie Kavner lookalike named Jessie. Now imagine Jessie reading a trashy romance novel in class when she's supposed to be watching a slide show about the birds and the bees. You see, Jessie's a bit mature for her age and her teacher Lynn Redgrave knows this. Lynn also knows how to put in a plug for the original BIONIC WOMAN series, which has just jumped to NBC the very season that SOONER OR LATER originally aired.
After school, Jessie makes a trip to the local mall with her nerdy blonde friend (we will call her Penny Pingleton because I don't think they ever say her name!). Once at Gimbels, Hollywood relic Vivian Blaine gives Jessie a makeover that transforms her into a 16-year-old whore. Then Viv charges Jessie $10 for a jar of Pond's Cold Cream. Outside of the mall, Michael Sky (Rex Smith) his Sky Band are giving a free concert. Jessie rushes to the stage and stares at Rex with his Leif Garrett hair, Godspell suspenders and camel toe. We can tell she's already smitten.
Next up we see Jessie in her bedroom, teaching herself to play guitar. Penny thinks she sucks, and tells her to get real lessons. Oh, then Penny tells Jess how she wants to makeout with her dentist. This gives me the creeps. Especially when we see her dentist - he looks like Larry from THREE'S COMPANY.
Jess decides Penny is right and takes the bus crosstown with her guitar, fending off all the mean folks who ride the bus. She arrives at the Eddie Nova Guitar Institute, where TV Land survivor Morey Amsterdam charges her $10 bucks for a guitar lesson - taught by...guess who? Michael Sky! With his lion's mane of hair, shirt wide open and ultra tight jeans, Jessie's putty in his hands. I think we learn that he's 17. Once back home, we meet Jessie's cool mom (Barbara Feldon), who we will call "99".
For her second lesson , Jess decides to dress to impress and starts to tell Rex lies about herself, saying she's 16, goes to Catholic High School and likes to jog. Rex drives her home, where she wipes off here make-up in time to light some candles in an obviously Jewish ceremony. We now meet Jess's dad - Judd Hirsch from TAXI!
The next day, Jess goes jogging (wearing an ascot!) as "You Take My Breath Away" by Rex Smith blares over the soundtrack. Jess meets up with Rex and pretends to twist her ankle to have him pay more attention to her. Afterwards, Rex takes his friends for a ride and we meet a slutty redhead who wants to get in Rex's pants! Later Jessie is seen putting on her makeup on the bus...and then sneaks into a crowd of high school girls so Rex will think she's as old as them when he picks her up.
At a Sky Band rehearsal, slutty redhead tells Jess that she was wondering if Rex was gay! After the rehearsal, Rex offer Jess a beer and then forces her to perform a song with him in front of all his friends. She does and they kiss!
Next, Jess is back home for a boring Jewish dinner. Grandma complains that the soup is too salty - AFTER she eats most of it! Then Judd puts in a plug for DAYS OF OUR LIVES. (wow that makes two NBC references that are both still relevant!!) Next Judd & 99 share an uncomfortable discussion about sex and who is gonna tell Jessie all about it. Grandma then takes upon herself to tell Jessie about her love for an older boy when she was a teen. The next day, Rex asks Jess out to see MANDINGO!!! Holy shit - MANDINGO!!!
While he readies himself for a date with 99, Judd treats us all to "Sunrise, Sunset" from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - Wow they really are Jewish! Jessie is all impatient with her parents because she wants them to leave so she can sneak out with Rex. The parents and Granny leave, and Rex picks up Jess and takes her to the drive-in. Jess nervously orders EVERYTHING from the snack bar and eats it all. They then make out and Jess tells Rex that she's loved him since the shopping mall. Rex can tell she is hiding something from him. She confesses "I'm not Catholic...and I'm 13".
Rex freaks out and drives her home. She tells him she loves him and she didn't mean to be a tease. He drives away and she proceeds to eat an entire Sara Lee chocolate cake...and cries. She really is a young Julie Kavner! Meanwhile Rex buys a beer and redhead slutty girl tries to get all up on him. He rejects her...again. The next day, Jessie is sad, 99 tries to talk to her about sex -but there's nothing this little bitch doesn't already know, after all she's seen MANDINGO! Then 99 tells her about the older boy at sleepaway camp. Hmmm...first Grandma, then 99, then Penny now Jess...all young girls LOVE older guys!!!
In the end, Morey tries to teach Jess some fancy guitar moves, but then Rex shows up at the music school wearing gold cowboy boots and proclaims that he loves her back - and then they pledge to "take it real slow"...
Wow - what an epic love story. Denise Miller is really charming as young Jessie, and the film is highly watchable, despite the underlying creepy subtext about young girls and older guys. Penny even has a framed photo of Burt Reynolds in her bedroom - and she's overjoyed when she develops a cavity -another excuse to visit her sleazy dentist!
Special thanks to Brett Freedman for lending me this dvd. I can see why he loves it so much. This one's a keeper!
10 out of 10 "Huhs".