Over the Edge
Over the Edge D: Jonathan Kaplan (1979); with Michael Kramer, Matt Dillon, Vincent Spano.
People are always puzzled when teenagers go nuts in the suburbs. Just ask anybody in the antiseptic, wealthy community of Plano, Texas, where an astonishing number of kids have succumbed to heroin overdoses. With that in mind, a film like Over the Edge
seems almost prophetic in its message yet fairly tame in its conclusion. That's not to say it isn't low-rent teen exploitation, but unlike most works in the genre (see the abysmal Class of 1984
it has the wits to rise above trashy expectations. Supposedly based on a real story, Over the Edge
is set in the planned community of New Granada. Nice homes are in abundance, but there's nowhere for the town's kids to hang out. Middle-class rebel Carl (Kramer), full-time delinquent Richie (Dillon, in an outstanding debut), and others spend time doing drugs, listening to loud rock & roll, and trying to avoid harassment from bully cops. Parents, on the other hand, are more concerned with the town's property value and the prospect of industrial parks. It's not long before the cast of smart-mouthed teens find themselves in deep trouble and eventually revolt against the drippy grownups. The young Dillon effortlessly portrays the thuggish Richie, and Kramer is believable as the misunderstood kid turned miscreant. Add a pulsating soundtrack featuring the Ramones, Van Halen, and Cheap Trick, and you have a vibrant depiction of confused teen life. The only difference is that all of the characters (the punk, the stoner, the bad girl) are just as sympathetic as they are familiar. Kaplan's product is certainly clever (at times, even quite humorous considering the cool Seventies wardrobe and lingo) and provides a concept that's still relevant and worth revisiting.