Friday, April 17, 2009

Bargain Bin Review: The Children of Times Square (1986)

Channel 5.2 on my digital converter shows the programming for a network called This TV, which shows mostly "forgotten" (sometimes "classic") movies that would have been shown on Channel 13 or Channel 5 on a Sunday afternoon if it were the 1990s or 1980s. Needless to say, it's a decent place to spend time when nothing else is on television (especially without cable/satellite), and the only thing you want to do is watch television. TV happens, I guess.

They showed a 1980s TV movie called The Children of Times Square, which is supposedly a cautionary tale about runaway kids going to the then-filthy Times Square in New York City. Unfortunately, it becomes a spoof, with the writers creating unintentional ironic situations, where the original intent is subverted:

1. The protagonist runaway (a kid from the suburbs) never truly earns the sympathy of the audience. At the beginning of the movie, he abandons his baby brother, who he was supposed to babysit, in order to see a concert. That pretty much brands the protagonist as a douche for the rest of the movie and deserving of all the ills coming to him (being tricked to be a whore for old men) and undeserving of various twists of fate in his favor (escaping from his first whore job; his mommy searching for him; etc.).

2. The supposedly evil drug dealer looks like he's exploiting the kids in his employment, but he actually comes off as a darn good saint of a man. Why? He provides the kids (below age 16) an opportunity to survive without being a whore, he gives them a pretty cool warehouse in which to live, he gives them an essentially win-win situation (if they are caught, they are too young for jail, according to the movie's legal system), and he protects them from bullies. What does he get for his benevolence? That's right - he gets killed in the end.

3. The subplot involving a female teenage runaway is unintentional, and possibly inappropriate, comic relief. At the beginning of the Times Square part of the movie, she comes to town and refuses an opportunity from a pimp. First of all, the pimp was hilarious and stereotypical in almost every way. She is caught by the cops to be sent home, but she escapes from a second- or third-story restroom and breaks her ankle. LOL. She gets sent home, but runs away to Times Square again. This time, she agrees to work for the pimp. At the last scene of the movie, now a teenage whore, the injured female runaway limps to a potential client at the corner: "Hey mister, you wanna have some fun?"

That pretty much sums up the movie.

I'm probably going to rant about more bargain bin-type movies if I have nothing else to write on this daily blog. I should come up with a rating system for these movies: On the "low end" of the scale, the movie is so genuinely good that nary a word is uttered in mockery during viewing. We'll probably not review good bargain bin movies here. On the "high end" of the scale, the movie is so bad that it is required to participate by talking to the TV and joking about what just happened with people with whom you are watching the movie.

For The Children of Times Square, I deem it worthy to make fun of virtually every scene, as long as you watch it with a least one other person. With real life danger replaced with unintentional comedy, the protagonist as an irredeemable douche, and the supposed bad guy as an obvious saint - good times will be had by all.

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