Joysticks (1983)


You might be thinking, “Why the hell review this chunk of cinematic excrement?”. If so, I see you’ve already watched Joysticks. Also, good question. I asked myself this very thing about 1000 times while subjecting myself to the movie.

The answer to the question allows me to plug my website for the 1000th time. I run a video game history site called The Dot Eaters. So, as a video game historian, you’d think Joysticks would be right up my alley. I squee with delight at quick glimpses of classic arcade games in movies like Tron and WarGames. I even jones on the scene in the 1978 version of Dawn of the Dead where they’re in the arcade playing all those classic 70’s games like Starship.  And I have to say, Joysticks does not skimp on the video games.  Heck, even the opening credits are interspersed with plenty of 80’s video game footage.

So yeah, great.  Lots of video games.  The other thing you’d think would lean this movie over to the plus column is the copious amount of boobage on display here.  I mean those ta-tas are popping out all over the place.  It’s maybe five minutes past those opening credits when two girls are already shoving their bare breasts at the camera.  I think I saw more naked cans over the 88 minutes of this film than a mammography technologist sees in a year! Video games.  Boobies.  Sounds great, right?

It was TERRIBLE!  I mean, you know things are sad when you can say that Joe Don Baker is slumming in this movie.  Just to give a quick synopsis, because using more than one breath to describe the plot is a waste of oxygen: Baker plays Joseph Rutter, a businessman in fair River City, who, for a never fully formed reason, wants to shut down the local video game arcade.  The kids who hang there want to stop him.  And seriously, can I just turn on my PS3 and play a game instead of watching this crap?

Story: there is a bit of plot concerning the young stud who runs the arcade, which kicks in towards the end, so I’ll grudgingly award a point (+1) there.  The Look gets nada (+0).  I swear we had more elaborate sets and cinematography in film school.  Overall casting scores a point (+1) only for Jim Greenleaf who plays a disgusting duffus named, knowingly, Dorfus.  And I have to say, for a teen screwball comedy, everyone is very committed (or should be such), so 2 points (+2) on the board for Commitment to Genre.

Sub-total: +4

I’ll give +2 for the great mammaries this film left me with.  And these are big, floppy 80’s breasts, not the silicon-infused, tightly-wound fakeries we get nowadays.

As I said at the start we get a lot of great game footage, but as the movie wears on we realize that Joysticks is really just an ad for Midway, as only their games like Super Pac-Man and Satan’s Hollow are really featured, so -1 for the product placement.

-1 for naming the town River City, and thus alluding to the great movie and play The Music Man, which this film is not even worthy to clean the spit valves of.

-1 for the anything-but-suspensful courtroom scene.

-1 for the main guy excusing himself for a minute before the big game competition and then engaging in a 15-minute training montage that nobody in the contest would possibly allow.

And -1 for the idea of having to mash on buttons to play a Pac-Man game.

So one (+1) measly point for Joysticks.  Time to pull the plug on this insult to two separate entertainment mediums.


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Author: William Hunter

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