Tuff Turf- the one movie where RDJ and James Spader were friends

That’s about as hard to believe as the fact I actually decided to watch this movie… and as hard to believe as the fact I kinda liked it.
It probably wouldn’t make my theoretical list of top 100 80’s movies… but at least the top 200. It wasn’t super terrible and it wasn’t excellent. But I enjoyed it.

I don’t know when I decided that maybe I should start giving James Spader some slack. I mean, since “Less than Zero,” I’d been very negative about him. Still point my finger gun sideways whenever I see a commercial for “The Blacklist”… but I guess life may be too short to hold grudges.

Some people I feel negatively about, I simply don’t acknowledge their existence.
But others like James Spader, it’s been a part-time hobby, holding that grudge in my back pocket.

I’m still not ready to forgive him for “Less Than Zero”… something likely won’t happen unless I miraculously have a conversation where he actually convinces me that he’s a good guy in real life.
Seriously, that’s part of his IMDB trivia. “Is quick to point out that, unlike the sleazy, sneaky characters he is best known for playing, he is actually a nice, friendly man in real life.”

There’s that and another fact that says he refuses to see any movie he’s appeared in… but would he make an exception for the new Avengers movie because, technically, it’s just his voice?
If I were to be snarky at this point, I’d say “very convenient that you don’t watch your own movies… so you can escape feeling guilty about what you’ve done on screen”… he plays a lot of villains and skimming through the messageboards and such, I’m led to believe he has actually done worse than getting Julian so hooked on drugs that his death was the only logical conclusion.

I don’t want to do an honest to god legit movie review on “Tuff Turf” because I’d done so many Downey movie reviews on this blog… and I don’t want to be constricted in order to appear professional. Because this is kinda personal for me.

So yeah, on this one particular occasions, these two actors played friends in a movie. And it’s one of a few occasions where James Spader plays a good guy :shrug: again, hard to believe.
Seeing his face now, now that he’s aged quite a bit, I still feel that ick factor. And this may be the only occasion where I get to see him as his younger handsomer self play a good role.

For starters, his character is new in town. Apparently, he’s had a troubled history, getting involved with gangs and such. This behavior was for attention, really, because his older brother is so “perfect.” His family’s from Connecticut, but after his father loses his business, they move to Rosita…
The same city in California Daniel Larusso moved to in “The Karate Kid”… the big difference being that Morgan Hiller is no pushover. He got on the high school gang’s bad side when he foils their attempt to mug someone. When confronted, he shows no intimidation at all. I hate to admit this, but I can’t help but admire that about him. That unshakeable confidence.

Much of the movie’s plot line is about him falling for the gang leader’s girlfriend, Frankie, and getting her to fall in love with him. Something that’s unlikely at first because Frankie’s tough and has no interest in him. But somehow, he manages to win her over… probably had something to do with that country club scene.

Anyway, the one moment where that confidence vanishes… Morgan believes he’s being followed because he recognized the car. He’s cornered, ready to meet his maker, and RDJ’s character emerges from the driver’s side.
In a prior scene, Morgan stole a Porsche (the keys were in the ignition), the guys stole it from him and they got thrown in jail for grand theft auto.
So using this car, Morgan picks up Frankie and one of her friends, and takes them to a country club. His family was rich, so this is kinda his world. They do their best to blend in, although Jimmy (RDJ) isn’t as adept about it. [He gets busted for trying to conceal a 2-foot loaf of bread in his pants].
Frankie starts to fall for Morgan when he serenades her at the piano.

Meanwhile, my own resolve is starting to shake a bit. To the point where I wished he was someone else, different from the person I have a vendetta against. [Darn my love for actors that can sing… he’s got a good voice too… darn it]

I hated the bad guys enough to be in his corner, but it’s not like I was 100% in favor of him getting through this alive and I wasn’t 100% negative about him either.
Another scene where he actually gets owned by the gang in the school locker room… it’s hard not to feel an ounce of sympathy, no matter who it is. Because that was a pretty tough situation. [Not too graphic, in case anyone jumps to any conclusions. He just got beat by a bunch of towels with keys wrapped inside them].

Morgan invites Frankie over to dinner, which precedes the movie’s climax. Her boyfriend finds out about this, picks her up after the dinner, and when he spots Morgan’s father, he makes her do the routine from the movie’s opening… where she distracted a man, asking for change, while the gang moves in.
This time, she tries to save him, and he winds up getting shot. The one moment in the movie where I was shocked. I spent most of it pretty passive, although there were occasional outbursts of laughter. [Robert was great comic relief]

His father survives. But the boyfriend takes his frustration out on Frankie, makes her call Morgan to a warehouse where he’s likely to get jumped and even more likely to get killed.
But he handles the situation smartly. First, he leaves word at Jimmy’s place to arrive with back-up [whatever back-up it would be, I had no idea what to expect]. Then he comes down from the roof, taking out a couple of the gang members before making his presence known.

The back-up was Jimmy with two Doberman Pinschers. That’s the full extent of his usefulness, unfortunately. He gets shot in the leg and incapacitated for the rest of the fight.

Throughout, Jonathan Elias (which I’ll willing to bet is the same guy who worked with Robert on his album) orchestrated an amazing score. Vintage 80’s. During this final showdown at the warehouse, my heart was racing so fast with the tension it was creating…. just wow…
I hadn’t looked too far into this movie so I didn’t know what to expect as far as an ending.

But it turns out favorable for everybody. All the guys are dispatched and their leader is likely dead after Morgan pushes him from a couple stories above the ground.
The fight ran a little long, maybe, but other than that, I have no complaints.

Kim Richards was great as Frankie. Very sassy with a lot of attitude. There’s a scene where Morgan takes her dancing at a club where there are cage dancers and a live band. She whips her hair and dances around like she don’t care who’s watching. The crowd and band loved her.

As a Downey film, it was average. It’s certainly one of his best showings in the 80’s. His character wasn’t too much of a weirdo. [He was a riot at the country club, eating food off people’s plates, talking in a French accent, and of course that long loaf of bread… but they were naturally funny moments, not awkward at all]. His fashion sense also wasn’t bad… “Weird Science” and “Back to School” weren’t a good look for him, but this was. The one exception was his band uniform. He plays drums for a band. From the waist up, it was awesome because he wasn’t wearing a shirt. But then he got up from behind the kit… those pants are a fashion disaster, but it’s only one scene.
He’s a supporting role, mainly supporting his-soon-to-be-onscreen-foe James Spader, and doesn’t have too much screentime. But when the camera’s on him, he lits it up. This was before he added “Jr.” to his name in the cast lists. He also seemed… pure… on screen. Not just the not being a weirdo part, but the part of it being this was before drugs got involved.

Of course, I hate bringing that up because I don’t view him that way… but in the 80’s, it’s hard not to notice that. He looked really good, handsome and healthy.

Given the history of their movies together, I had to hold my breath for the final moments when the credits started. Morgan and Frankie return to the club to dance and the band leader recognized her from the other night. Meanwhile, I’m waiting to see Jimmy make an appearance.
I think to myself “he got shot in the leg and not at a particular vital place, so he should live”… but I was hanging on, just in case.
A minute later, he shows up with his leg in a cast, perfectly fine. Of course I had to cheer.

If he got killed for saving James Spader’s ass… god forbid… I’d go on holding my grudge against the guy for all eternity.
So I guess now I say I can’t 100% hate him.
With this new Avengers movie, I have no concerns. At least not with the Avengers I care about.
Hawkeye and Iron-Man will appear in the next Captain America movie… of course Captain America will be there.
Thor has another movie in the works.

Black Widow and Hulk on the other hand… they don’t have any other projects in the works that I know of, so they aren’t 100% safe.

I still don’t know if the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are good or bad guys… but it’d be silly to introduce them in this movie, only for them to be casualties… if they are among the good guys.

I guess this is somewhat of a relief, seeing this movie and getting to see some scenarios play out that I didn’t think were possible.
I still find it hard to believe Robert and James Spader are friends in real life… I figured that’d be tough for anyone who was subsequently led to their movie death [I’d say onscreen, but Julian died off screen].

Moral: Life is too short for grudges.

I’m not ready to forgive James Spader for “Less than Zero” yet, but I’m at least more open to the idea :shrug:

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