Spring Break (1983)

Director: Sean S. Cunningham

Tagline: “Like it’s really, totally, the most fun a couple of bodies can have. You know?”

Plot: Nelson (David Knell) and Adam (Perry Lang) are just a couple of guys looking to have fun in Fort Lauderdale during, as the title suggests, spring break. They’ve come to the right place. Alcohol flows freely and, as one of the guys puts it, “Wherever you look: skin, skin, skin!” Yet not everyone wants our heroes to enjoy themselves. The kindly proprietor of the dumpy Breeze N’ Seas Motel (Jessica James) has trouble paying the bills, meaning their home away from home might get shut down before their vacation’s over. What’s more, Adam’s stuffy dad (Donald Symington) is running for the U.S. Senate, meaning he’s keen not to be embarrassed by a misbehaving college kid. The final indignity: The Breeze N’ Seas has “accidentally” double-booked the guys’ room, meaning they have to double up with a couple of Brooklyn dudes named O.T. (Steve Bassett) and Stu (Paul Land). This is going to be the worst spring break ever, right?

WRONG! Turns out Stu and O.T. are just what our interchangeable would-be party animals need, a couple of players with all the right moves when it comes to scoring with the skin, skin, skin. This creates some awkward moments early in their time together when Stu and O.T. kick the boys out of bed to, um, carry on intense discussions with some not-so-demure young women. But soon Nelson and Adam decide they can learn a thing or two from their new roommates. “Stu’s what you’d call professionally cool,” one of them says, though the film leaves the question of how one earns a living as a professional cool guy tantalizingly unanswered.

Key scenes: A film given shape less by a forceful plot than a string of meaningful vignettes (see also, Au Hasard Balthazar), Spring Break lets its heroes drift from the luxury-van home of a broadly drawn Latino pot dealer to a belly-flop contest. Captured in loving detail, the latter gets the sort of screen time usually reserved for the finales of films in which Robert Redford hits lightbulb-shattering home runs. But how does one win a belly-flop contest, you’re no doubt wondering? Well, like this:

Elsewhere, director Sean S. Cunningham (Friday The 13th, DeepStar Six) shows he’s every bit as adept at compressing time as expanding it. Here, O.T. shows his patented pickup skills as the film rolls into one of several sun/fun montage sequences (briefly NSFW):

But it isn’t all bikinis and, well, more bikinis. There’s also all that business with Adam’s dad’s campaign run. And the debts on the Breeze N’ Sea. Both crises reach a peak as the film nears its end. But did you know that the Chinese word for “crisis” doubles as the word for “wet T-shirt contest”? (sort of NSFW):

(Actually, all those issues get worked out via a pie fight and the inevitable scene of some bad guys getting tossed in the pool. But who cares, really?)

Can easily be distinguished by: It’s that one ’80s sex comedy set during spring break. Not clear enough? How about: It’s that one ’80s sex comedy with a title song by Cheap Trick? No, that wouldn’t rule out Up The Creek. The complete absence of Rob Morrow and Johnny Depp sets it apart from Private Resort… Is that good enough?

Sign it was made in 1983: Apart from depicting blissfully carefree casual sex just before AIDS made such depictions dangerously passé? Most of the breasts look real. Also, in one scene, one of the guys seduces a woman by showing her tips at getting high scores on Galaga. (In 1983 you pretty much had to work not to get laid in Fort Lauderdale, apparently.)

Memorable quotes: The wet T-shirt contest night extends into other competition, one of which prompts the announcer to inform the crowd what a bunch of banana-equipped contestants must do to win: “All these couples have to do is eat these bananas as radically and outrageously as possible!” Alas, we never see the winning performance.