I confess to one thing. I’m somewhat attracted to below average movies. Purely for the comical aspects revealed by just HOW badly they are presented. The Room, Birdemic, Maximum Overdrive, just to name a few. I recently apprehended a copy of an early 80’s shlock comedy called Joysticks. You know those films right? Around 90 minutes with the same formula: a funny start, the storyline and introduction of main characters quickly out of the way, then the plot thickens with one individual who is a grumpy bum wanting to ruin the fun, as the story then progresses into a ‘serious’ scenario. A final showdown is then presented with the main protagonists winning the day.
The storyline to this film is that a bunch of misfits hang out at a Video Arcade run by Jeff (his grandfather, the actual owner, is on leave), so the pretty-boy grandson is running the ship…
Ah, but of course it’s not an 80’s shlock film without sexual innuendos and scantily clad women now is it?
So anyway, some folk run a Video Arcade, and find that the father of one of the regulars, some local businessman (who’s inner child it seems was destroyed by something or other) played by Joe Don Baker (Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Mars Attacks), finds video games to be a corruptive influence on society and doesn’t like his daughter hanging out with a bunch of youngsters having a good time. He subsequently does whatever it takes to shut the Arcade down, with the help of his idiot nephews (who seem to be the writer’s idea of trying to incorporate some sloppy excuse for a slapstick feel to the film). A punk kind of guy named Vidiot, played by John Gries (Napoleon Dynamite, Lost, The Pretender) also makes an appearance and he…ummm. Nope. No idea what he’s meant to incorporate to this film. Perhaps some gang leader? I don’t get it…
Of course, part of the formula of a typical 80’s comedy is that there’s a tournament at the end of the film, a battle of good and evil if you will. It’s hard to not spoil the storyline when the formula is done to death with so many of these films.
The acting (and overacting) when some people play the Arcade games in this is film is well, over the top to say the least, the theme song is ear-piercingly annoying (yet it stays in your head for days afterwards) and the characters are so cliched it’s not funny.
the nervous stereotypical nerd who is a new recruit and employee to the Video Arcade,
the token comical fat slob who used to be a class president in the high school who then became a pro at Arcade games,
And then there are the ditzy and promiscuous female roles we have come to expect to see in a film from this genre.
I mean hell, there was even one scene where two girls and a guy play strip video where with each life lost they take a piece of clothing off.
And to what game I hear you ask?
So what are the good things (besides the Pac-Man wipes in-between scenes) about this movie?
Well firstly, there are a slew of classic Arcade games in the film like Satan’s Hollow. Looks like Midway had some part of this film right? Absolutely! Another pretty funny (in a lame way) part of the film was the fact that enormous joysticks are used for the tournament scenes.
All in all, Joysticks is a cult classic for gamers, but it wasn’t the best of its genre (if such thing exists). However, if curiosity does kill the cat, and you’re after an iconic 80’s comedy which was Arcade game-centric from back in the day, then give it a try! It’s not a bad film for those Arcade nerds who may feel the need to point out their favourite childhood games, but don’t expect laugh-a-minute cavalcade from this.
I can easily sum this film up.
Breasts & Pac-Man