Nothing dates a movie quite as much as a roller-skating blonde in white shorts and a tube top. Midnight Madness opens with exactly that and quickly follows with a scene in which a student counselor reassures a romantically... more » nervous freshman with the line, "Flynch, you could be a real Burt Reynolds, I know you could." Ah, nostalgia. Made on the cusp of the '80s, after Animal House but before Porky's, Disney's college comedy gained a considerable following, thanks to countless screenings on HBO during the Reagan administration. Like all the best cult movies, it's awful, but compelling nonetheless. This is a film in which all the nerds look alike, the jocks have names such as Armpit, and you get to see fat twins shake their abundant disco booties. The plot revolves around an all-night scavenger hunt, with five teams of competing students racing around Los Angeles solving clues and getting into all sorts of amusing scrapes, including a visit to the Pabst brewery that will have you humming ancient advertising songs for days. David Naughton, who went on to star in An American Werewolf in London, is our hero, but the real fun comes from Stephen Furst as the mean and chubby rich kid and the legendary über-nerd Eddie Deezen as Wesley. Michael J. Fox makes his film debut as Naughton's troubled but feisty kid brother, and the eagle-eyed viewer may even spot Paul Reubens in a tiny role. Being a Disney film that was released before Porky's made shower scenes an integral part of campus comedies, this is a curiously innocent movie--just watch how long it takes the teams to decipher the clue, "Look between the two giant melons." Nevertheless, Midnight Madness is 112 minutes of undemanding, cheesy fun for anyone who remembers the last days of disco. It makes Animal House look like Chekhov, but watch it with a group of friends, and perhaps a little Pabst Blue Ribbon, and you'll have a hoot. --Simon Leake« less
Ruth M. (spatzlemaker) from BEAVERTON, OR Reviewed on 4/24/2009...
I make no apologies, this movie is hilarious. It is so bizarre and silly. If you like off-beat comedies, you'll be hooked by the opening roller-skating sequence. Invite some friends over, let the alcohol flow and watch it!
"Fagabeefy?" Or Quintessential early '80's romp
the_smoking_quill | South Carolina | 08/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OK, in terms of absolute merit, I'll be the first to admit that this is not a 5-star movie. However, in terms of sheer, nostalgic fun and late-night silliness, Midnight Madness is a classic--as the numerous, heartfelt reviews here show. The plot is simple: a mastermind, Leon, stages a Los Angeles-wide scavenger hunt, inviting five captains and their teams to play for everlasting glory. Heralding in the class-consciousness of later '80's movies, there are the White Team (nerds on mopeds); the Green Team (jocks in Meat Machine convertible); Red Team (sorority gals); Blue Team (outcasts in super-van with computer--TRS-80?); and Yellow Team (the good guys). Any bets on the winners?It's low-brow, slapstick, often cheesy and utterly improbable stuff. Yet in its own twisted universe, it _works_. The best thing HBO ever did in its youth was airing this movie practically every day. I don't think I ever watched it from start to finish, but I watched segments so many times that it all came together. Barf and Melio playing the piano; Pabst Blue Ribbon; the Big Boy; MISS!!!!!!!; roller skates; the arcade . . . and of course, the immortal "fagabeefy?". Almost mindless, but pretty darn clean, especially in light of today's gross-out flicks. (It was Disney's second PG movie, after The Black Hole.)Other amazing tidbits: this was the film debut of both Michael J. Fox and Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Rubens. Stephen Furst (Harold, the leader of the blue team) out-Flounders Flounder, his role in Animal House. The hotel desk clerk, Marvin Kaplan, played Henry on TV's "Alice." Andy Tennant, the snyde Melio, has gone on to bigger (if not better) things as the director of "Anna and the King" and "Fools Rush In." He also was a dancer in Grease and a greaser in Grease 2, and he was in "1941" with Barf (Brian Frishman) and the nerd leader (Eddie Deezan, Eugene from Grease). Amazing, isn't it?, that so many threads of trivia should intersect in such an odd place. Glad to see so many share fond memories of this film--and yes, that ultra-groovy, catchy, cheesy title track: "When midnight madness starts to get to you . . ." You've gotta see it to believe it. Enjoy, even as a guilty, nostalgic pleasure."
A cult classic of epic proportions
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 06/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Midnight Madness," I learned, was only the second live action 'PG' rated film to come out of Disney studios. The first was the science fiction film "The Black Hole," a movie best left moldering on video store shelves. "Midnight Madness" will never fade away since HBO, in its infinite wisdom, played the film on a perpetual loop from roughly 1982 to 1986. I must have watched this movie a thousand times during that period, and so did a million other people from the looks of it. Strangely, I completely forgot about the film for seventeen years, only remembering it when I stumbled over reviews for the picture on some website. Unfortunately, at the time it had not come out on DVD, so I had to wait until Disney saw fit to release it. Rewatching any film after a nearly two-decade interregnum is often a painful experience. In the case of "Midnight Madness," the sheer exuberance of the actors' performances and the wild hilarity of the plot completely overshadow spots of bad acting and general cheesiness. Never the sort of film that would win any awards-except for one of those raspberry trophies, perhaps-the picture still entertains. HBO ought add this to the queue again.
"Midnight Madness" is a scavenger hunt film in the vein of "Scavenger Hunt," "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," and "Million Dollar Mystery." Some guy named Leon (Alan Solomon) manages to convince a group of his fellow college students to take part in his latest entertainment, a scavenger hunt called "The Game." Five groups of kids will take part; each identified by a specific color, e.g. white, red, yellow, green, and blue. Of course, each group represents a clique on campus. The white team consists of the geeks, led by the always awesome Eddie Deezen in the role of Wesley. The yellow team, better known as the obligatory "good guys," consists of Adam (David Naughton), Laura (Debra Clinger), and eventually Adam's little brother Scott (Michael J. Fox). Jocks constitute the green team, lead by Lavitas (Brad Wilkin) and composed of athletes with monikers like Armpit (Curt Ayers). The blue team is the villain of the film, a group of offbeat nuts like Melio (Andy Tennant) and Barf (Brian Frishman) led by the egomaniacal Harold (Stephen Furst). Finally, the red team is the girl team, with the most notable contestants here being two giggly, overweight twins named Lulu and Peggy (Carol Gwynn and Betsy Lynn Thompson respectively). Each group has its own quirky attributes, and all of them despise the other teams. Harold, for instance, can't stand Adam because Harold's father thinks Adam is the archetypical "perfect" son. When he looks at his own boy, his attitude is summed up in one word: yech.
As the game progresses, we see the teams roaming the city while Leon runs the show from his grungy apartment. Clues lead the teams to an observatory, a beer factory, a piano shop, a burger joint, and several other places. Cheating, tricks, and outright hostility mark every leg of the game. Harold, who must win no matter what the cost if he is to retain even a shred of his father's affections, cheats from the get go with a fancy computer that instantly decodes Leon's clues. Problems often threaten to derail the teams, such as a flat tire for the yellows, Peggy and Lulu running off to dance at a disco, and melting marshmallows. Then there are the clues, cryptic messages that mystify the contestants. They more often find the clues through dumb luck than any sort of skill. "Look between the two melons," for example, would not offer up an instant answer no matter what the circumstances-unless you're a guy, perhaps. All of the midnight madness takes place firmly within the confines of late '70's and early '80's pop culture. The hyper cheesy disco tune at the beginning, a clue in a video game, and two gals on roller skates wearing tube tops are a good indication that "Midnight Madness" could not have been made at any other time.
The acting is often painful to watch. I can't remember a time I saw facial expressions so overdone. Naughton and Clinger are the worst performers in the film, but even then it's all done in such an innocent way that you tend to forgive their ridiculous overemoting. On the other hand, other actors do a great job. Andy Tennant's Melio is a real hoot, as is Brian Frishman in the iconic role of Barf. Eddie Deezen does dork better than anyone on the planet and he's at the top of his game in this film. Fortunately, the script provides these thespians with the best lines and scenes in cornball celluloid history. "Fagabeefe. Hey Melio, Fagabeefe!" is a line that should ring from the highest buildings in the land. My absolute favorite scene involves Barf playing that keyboard (Chopsticks, I think?), soon joined by Melio, to the great consternation of Harold. Priceless, just priceless. I don't think I even need to mention the whipsaw fast pace of the movie since any picture about a scavenger hunt will always move at lightning speed.
I rented "Midnight Madness" when I watched it recently, but I really need to buy a copy. My sister, I suspect, doesn't know this movie is out on DVD and would simply love to see it again. Sadly, the disc contains no extras. You can't tell me they couldn't get some of these guys together to do a commentary, especially Michael J. Fox if for no other reason than this was his first film role. Too, the transfer is fullscreen instead of glorious widescreen. Still, I'm not complaining. Revisiting this movie was like stepping back in time to those lazy days of childhood before jobs, relationships, and all that other junk took center stage in life."
Where have you been all my life?
Idelis | Orlando, Florida | 02/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been searching for this movie for years. I saw this film in the 80s as a child when it came on cable in Puerto Rico, my older brother had recorded it for me, but of course it's in Spanish and it's not the same you know, I can't believe I've actually found it and in English at that. I can't wait till it gets to me, I found it a few years back for $80 at a video store but I wasn't willing to pay that much at the time. I'm eternally grateful I didn't stop my search. This is my favorite childhood movie of all time. Everyone should watch this at least once, this is 80s corn at its very best."
Catch Midnight Madness
Kirk Blocker | America | 05/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw Midnight Madness on HBO late one night as a child, and I remember staying up late everytime it was on just to watch it again and again. Now that it's out on video, I can watch it whenever I want (even though it seems to be best enjoyed in the wee small hours of the morning). Midnight Madness is an absolute laugh riot and a must for any fans of comedies, 1980's movies, or just about anyone with a sense of humor, for that matter. I have yet to meet one person who's seen this film and didn't enjoy. It's just a fun movie, and, as a bonus, it's the first ever big screen appearance of Michael J. Fox. I would have to highly recommend this movie to anyone interested in simply having a good time."
"Get away! We don't want any of your humble literature!"
Idelis | 11/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I became hooked on this movie when I was a kid in the early '80s. We had one of those huge satellite dishes and could catch the same movie on twice as much as someone with regular cable since we had both East & West coast HBO, not to mention every other movie channel out there. Subsequently, my brother and I used to watch this movie practically every time it aired. We knew it by heart as kids, and it was fun seeing it again as an adult and realizing that I still remembered all the lines, even the words to that hokie, yet endearing theme song. "Duuuh....Fagabeefee?" has been a running joke within our family for years. The movie is basically a disco scavenger hunt featuring the nightlife, the boogie, the roller skates, and of course the Pabst Blue Ribbon. There's even romance. Be sure to look for those hot glances between the shy Adam and the wanton Laura. (I'm being facetious, of course. But I do find those scenes - unintentionally - funny.) Also worth mentioning and indicative of the time it was made are the Devo-esque nerds on the mopeds. This is a must see for '80s children and anyone else who enjoys cornball comedies."