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Gimme An F

A movie where you don't get what you're expecting.

copyright 2005 by Pat Powers

Gimme An F is a 1984 teen sex comedy about wacky hi-jinks at a cheerleading camp that possesses a subtle weirdness that will have you wondering afterwards what you just watched and why it leaves you feeling ... whatever it is you're feeling. You certainly won't be feeling the sort of shameful pleasure one normally takes in watching a teen sex comedy. It's a much more disquieting feeling, as if you thought you were eating popcorn, but instead it turned out to be some weird ethnic food, one of those ethnic foods you'd really rather not know the ingredients of, or the preparation techniques involved.

Yeah, it's that kinda disquieting.

The story is primarily concerned with a rivalry between the Lucky Ducks, a devout Catholic high school cheerleading team, and the Falcons, an elite, rigidly Puritanical cheerleading team. The Lucky Ducks are a bunch of lovable losers, the Falcons are clearly the best team in Camp Beaver (ah, the subtleties of teen sex comedies). Playing the spoiler role are the Demons, the sexually wild "bad girl" team.

If you're thinking that there's a sneaky religious theme happening here, with the two "good" teams struggling to resist being led into iniquity by the "bad girl" team, think again. Nobody resists temptation for more than a nanosecond in this movie -- in that respect at least, it's true to its teen sex comedy roots. And it's also true to the movies' own weirdness, because one of the disquieting elements of Gimme An F is that it sets up a lot of themes and so forth that never quite pan out or work the way you'd think they would. Or should, in any sane universe.

There are also a couple of major subplots involving the Bucky, the owner of the camp, whose middle-aged boosterism conceals some sleazy business dealings, and the camp instructors, who are college grads who are starting to wonder if there might be more to life than well-waggled pom-poms and generic school spirit.

You would think that a teen sex comedy would focus on the sexual affairs of the young cheerleaders in the movie.

Um, no. There's only one sex scene with any nudity involved, one that involves a scene of a female camp counselor having sex with Bucky, inexplicably wearing pasties over her nipples while she does him cowboy style. Bucky, of course, is middle-aged, and not Don Johnson style middle-aged, more like Dom DeLuise's meaner, slimmer brother. It seems kinda cruel to lure teens into movie to see a sex comedy expecting nubile young babes and horny studs and instead show them something like that. But once again, it's totally in keeping with the movie's wierdness.

You would think a teen sex comedy about cheerleading would focus solely on female cheerleaders, but I'd say the guys in this movie were as much or more the sex objects than the women. There are two male cheerleader instructors at the cheerleader camp (curiously, there are no male cheerleader students). One of them dances at a nearby strip club that appears to cater to both female clients and hard-core strip bar guys.

(Yeah, that's believable -- that hard-core strip bar guys (think proto-bikers) would patronize a place where half the dancers are guys.)

When the Demons sneak out of camp they persuade the leader of the Lucky Ducks to go with them to the strip club. Janna, the Demon squad leader is invited up to dance on the runway with one of the male dancers, and she makes an attempt at raunchy dancing which is greatly inhibited by her general stiffness and unwillingness to grind against her partner. In fact, in one part of the dance she places his hands on her butt cheeks and then does what appears to be the bunny hop rather than a grind. Then again, one of the moves in the dance was clearly a simulation to her giving the male dancer some head. Once again, weird.

There was very little actual sex for a sex comedy, and not much in the way of nudity either -- OK, nothing in the way of nudity other than the sex scene I mentioned, unless you count the guy doing a sexy dance number in his skivvies, which I don't, but I imagine there are a lot of gals and some gay guys who will.

The best eye candy from my point of view was Demon squad leader Janna, who spent a lot of the movie wearing a skintight spandex swimsuit that left no doubt as to her body's general hotness. Still, you can get that kinda hotness from prime time network TV (think Baywatch) you don't need an R rating. Once again, weird.

There were also plenty of shots of sexy cheerleaders cheerleading, mostly the "dance routine" kind of cheerleading sexed up quite a bit more than you probably see at your average college football game. (I don't watch football games in person, so I'm not qualified to say. I've seen a few on TV, but the activities of the female cheerleaders are generally neglected.) However, as part of my research for this review, I watched some cheerleading contests on cable television, and let me tell you, the stuff in this movie was nothing compared to the modern cheerleading. It wasn't so much the sexy moves, though there were some, it was the cheerleaders being tossed 20 feet in the air and doing double back flips in the meantime, and a widespread display of gymnastic legerdemain.

Generally, moviemakers take poetic license with athletic feats in films -- witness every fistfight and kung fu battle ever filmed where people leap 30 feet in the air, take half a dozen slugs and land on their feet to deliver a devastating series of spin kicks and right hooks. And R rated moviemakers are only too happy too lay on the sleaze when an opportunity presents itself, so that regular cheerleading becomes topless cheerleading. But the cheerleading in Gimme An F is neither as athletically amazing as the real thing, and the sexy moves just match or in many cases are subpar compared to the real thing. It's like they weren't even able to rent a real college cheerleading squad to do the stunts, or hire a few strippers from a strip club to raunch things up for them.

Once again, weird.

The sexy stuff isn't quite sexy and even when it IS sexy it's sexy in the wrong way, or an off-putting way, or something.

The gay element of the film, with the pretty much naked guy dancing in the shower and the male dancers at the dance club is definitely weird for a teen comedy. Most gay characters in teen sex comedies are either obnoxious stereotypes or handy quip machines. In Gimme An F the gay subtext goes by entirely unacknowledged -- the leads, if they are gay, are an ambiguously gay duo indeed. So ambiguously gay that it's quite reasonable to suppose that the characters are straight but still ... weird.

The bondage is weird, too. Well, there's one scene that's kinda normal -- the Blue Falcon leader is chained to a pole for no particular reason, a fairly unremarkable scene. The really arresting bondage imagery in the film is a scene of the Blue Falcons jogging around the camp with what appears to be white ball gags in their mouths. They are not white ball gags, of course, they are eggs. This leads one to ask, why would anyone jog around with an egg in their mouth? Or more particularly, why would a female cheerleading squad job around with eggs in their mouths? We are given to believe that it's part of the rigorous training regimen that makes the Blue Falcons such great cheerleaders. I don't buy that either -- breathing is an important part of exercising, and having an egg in your mouth hinders breathing no end.

No, it's weird, like everything else in Gimme An F.

Who was this film made for? Horny guys? Horny girls? Horny gays? Or people who just think sex is weird? Or people who just are weird?

We don't really know.

Strangely, the writer of this weird flick, James V. Hart, went on to a pretty good career, writing screenplays for Hook, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Contact, some muppet movies, and quite a few others. Karen Lee Kelly, the actress who made such delicious eye candy as Demon squad leader Janna, has an IMDB listing that shows only an appearance in Hardbodies as "Girl on Bike" other than Gimme An F. Weird.

I don't really recommend Gimme An F. You will wind up wanting to forget it, but then, something will remind you of it. Perhaps something as simple as an egg. There are a lot of eggs in the world. And Gimme An F is one of them. One shudders to think about the sort of creature that laid it.

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