release year: 1983
viewing setting: home DVD 1/31/13
synopsis: A young punk ends up in a boys' jail, where more trouble awaits.
impressions: This is the early Sean Penn role that no one knows about. He plays O'Brien, a kid whose robbery goes bad and lands him in youth jail, where he quickly runs afoul of the tough kids who run things. Meanwhile, his girlfriend on the outside runs afoul of the older brother of the kid killed in the botched robbery...and eventually that older brother ends up in the same jail as O'Brien. When I was a teenager and this movie came out, all the tough kids loved it, but it's really about more than just fighting - it's about realizing what's important and that you can't have those things if you're in jail. One high point: 46 minutes in, when O'Brien realizes that the two toughest prisoners are coming to get him, he buys a bunch of cans of soda from the machine, stuffs them in a pillowcase, and waits. Seldom has someone so fully beaten the living sh*t out of attackers.
activation point: 20:00 - this is when Mick is told by the judge that he's going to youth prison
acting: Sean Penn is the main kid, who has to balance his toughness with his desire to behave so he can get out. Esai Morales is his enemy. Ally Sheedy, in her first role, is his girlfriend. Clancy Brown, also in an early role, is a towering bad kid. The guy who played Horowitz also did a good, humorous job.
final word: Very serious youth jail drama.
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