Monday, December 26, 2005

Portrait of a Badass: Lucas

Character: Lucas Barton
Actor: Jackey Vinson
Film: The Wizard (1989)
Badass Moment: Lucas dons the Power Glove and plays the raddest fifteen seconds of Rad Racer ever witnessed. Then he attempts to use his video game skills as a means by which to impress a girl, and fails.

I cannot stress enough the importance of The Wizard. It is a cinematic staple for anyone who ever picked up an issue of Nintendo Power Magazine, yelled cuss words at the Mother Brain or pushed UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, START. It is, for lack of a better metaphore, the National Velvet of the My Little Pony Generation. It's the classic buddy film telling of one boy's rise from adversity to proverbial video game godhood.

To make a great film, you need a great villain, and that's where Lucas comes in. The young hero of The Wizard, James Woods (but you can call him Jimmy), faces numerous obstacles on his path to 8-bit glory, but none so daunting as the dark visage of Lucas. If you don't believe me, just do a Google search and see if you can't find references to Lucas's dialogue. His famous line about the Power Glove is right up there with "Here's lookin' at you, kid" and "Stella!"

If I haven't already convinced you that Lucas is a badass, get a load of this: The dude was so mind-bendingly cool that he was able to get a young, bemulletted Tobey Maguire to join his entourage:

Lucas, you are so bad (-ass). We salute you.


Nothing conveys my feelings about The Wizard quite as accurately as my Internet Movie Database review of the film. According to the IMDb, "15 out of 18 people found the following comment useful."


i love the power glove. it's my mommie. 18 July 2004
Author: jessejace from setagaya tokyo japan

Somewhere along the line, someone realized that it's nigh impossible to make a good movie based on a video game. So instead, they made a movie about the entire Nintendo Entertainment System, thereby capturing all the feel-good nostalgia associated with its hundreds of titles, but without crippling handicaps such as an unfeasible plot or Jean-Claude VanDamme as Colonel William F. Guile. Thus was born The Wizard...a shameless consumerist repackaging of The Who's Tommy, adjusted for a new audience and coming at you in full-on buddy film fashion.

Fred Savage explodes onto the screen as a curly-haired dork with highly articulate eyebrows. He's caught between his divorced parents in a custody battle over his autistic, obsessive-compulsive, equinophobic, dyslexic, colorblind kid brother Jimmy. Realizing that being in the custody of one or more of his parents will most certainly kill Jimmy (and that Jimmy has the superhuman ability to reach level 3 on Double Dragon), Fred Savage does the right thing and whisks his kid brother off to exploit his virtuosic video game playing ability for cash and prizes worth well over $130.

Along the way they meet Haley, who's totally hot if you're 12. Haley misleads Fred and Jimmy on many occasions, notably one scene where renegade truckers steal their entire video game pilgrimage budget and, presumeably, molest them. Still, they stick to their guns (or should I say, their NINTENDO LIGHT GUNS™, for use with Duck Hunt), even managing to outsmart the enigmatic Lucas, a rebellious young boy who apparently lives alone in the desert like Mohammed. But this little messiah has a NINTENDO POWER GLOVE™, buy yours today!

Lucas complicates the story, creating a sordid love triangle between himself, Fred Savage and Haley. He taunts Jimmy ruthlessly ("We wouldn't want you to...WHIZ on yourself.") and, despite having devoted his life to Nintendo games and thus presumably having no friends, a crowd of prepubescent disciples follow him at all times. His secret to success is the Nintendo Power Glove, which is, in Lucas's own words, "so bad." But as most of us know, the truth is that the Nintendo Power Glove was "totally gay." It only did what you wanted it to do when you were punching your friend in the face with it to vent your frustration about its lack of response.

The protagonists' path is beset by peril on all sides. There are teenage white trash hoodlums who exist solely for the purpose of stealing Jimmy's hat and saying lines like "What is this kid, some sort of cyborg?" There are fat salesmen who talk like Foghorn Leghorn, unable to believe that a scrawny kid is better than they are at Contra.

And don't get me started on Putnam, the creepy bald guy hired by Fred Savage's mom to bring the kids back home, dead or alive. Meanwhile, Beau Bridges plays Nintendo like my dad, yanking the controller this way and that. Every time Beau Bridges and Christian Slater run into Putnam, a redneck banjo riff kicks in and the whole movie starts to sound like a Menard's commercial while the adversaries engage in automobile/gardening tool combat.

Saved from certain molestation by a grotesque man-child named Spanky, their adventure climaxes when they play Ninja Gaiden with a scary gravel-voiced MC (who also appears to be a child molester) and nearly get eaten by a fake King Kong at UNIVERSAL STUDIOS THEMEPARK™, now open! By the way, Jimmy knows the exact location of the Warp Whistle in Super Mario Bros. 3 prior to the game's release because he reads NINTENDO POWER MAGAZINE™, subscribe today! Jimmy gets the Warp Whistle and uses it to reach World 4 and Lucas looks on helplessly as his empire of Power Gloves comes crashing down around him.

Spackled with golden dialogue, this movie is a subculture in its own right. But while many people quote Lucas's "it's so bad," or Haley's "he touched my breast," for me it doesn't get any better than when Christian Slater says, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles™."

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