Sunday, November 8, 2009

Archie Return to Riverdale (1990)

“I’m sick of being Miss Good Two Shoes. Treat me like a woman, Archie. Make…me…wild.”
- Betty Cooper

Title: Archie Return to Riverdale (or Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again if you prefer.)
Genre: Comedy (technically)
Year: 1990
PG (originally NR)

Christopher Rich as Archie Andrews
Lauren Holly as Betty Cooper
Karen Kopins as Veronica Lodge
Sam Whipple as Dr. Forsythe Pendleton “Jughead” Jones

Plot: The Riverdale gang return for their 15th high school reunion to unresolved sexual tension and the possible closing of Pop Tate’s Choklit Shoppe.

Tagline: The good ole days are here again!
First Viewing: Rented on VHS in 1996 (second grade).
Added to the list: Christmas, 1999.

It’s shit. No, really. It’s shit. It’s probably the shittiest movie on this list and don’t forget that I reviewed Son-in-Law earlier in this blog’s history. But I have never claimed that Jordyn’s Official Canonized List of Favorite Movies is equal to the greatest movies of all time. It’s not even a window into the greatest films of all time. No, you have to remember that these are the movies that have a special place in my heart. Movies who’s characters I personally identify with. Or movies I happened upon in my youth that have burrowed themselves so far within my psyche it would be a crime to remove them.

This is the case with the little TV movie that couldn’t: Archie Return to Riverdale. Being a lifetime fan of Archie comics, my little 8 year old heart went berserk when I saw there was an Archie movie. Begrudgingly, my dad rented it, despite appropriate misgivings. When my Archie obsession resurfaced in the summer of 1999, I desperately wanted to rewatch the movie, but not yet having any money, I had to wait for Christmas. I have yet to react in the same way I did when I opened Archie Return to Riverdale. I screamed. I jumped around the Christmas tree. I got yelled at by my parents.

If you don't like Archie comics, or are otherwise uninterested in them, there is no reason to watch this movie. It helps if you know the characters because this is no origin story. It starts out in the "present day" (a.k.a. 1990). Archie is a lawyer, still living in Riverdale. He is engaged to this cunt named Pam and intends to move to The City to work with her at a law firm. His 15th high school reunion is his last big Riverdale event.

As for the rest of the gang, Veronica has struck out four times at the altar and has been living off of alimony and daddy's money in Paris.

Betty works as a second grade school teacher in Midvale, struggling to become a published author and is dating an asshole named Robert.

Reggie works for Mr. Lodge and manages a fitness club. (Ah, don't you love how fads of the past decade bleed into the new one?)

And finally, most disturbingly, Jughead is a woman fearing divorcee psychiatrist with a ten year old son named Jordan.

The main conflict of the movie is an uncharacteristicly evil Mr. Lodge evicting Pop Tate to make space for Reggie's fitness club. Of course, Archie the Lawyer tries to save him, but alas, the letter of the law must be followed. So at the final night of the reunion celebration (the same exact night the bulldozers loom towards Pop's), the gang links arms across the front of the shop, and it's saved! Yay!!!

Truly, the character stuff is why I like this movie. Fuck the plot. Jughead still has his fear women. (How he ever married and procreated is a mystery). The entire time he tries to avoid "Big" Ethel Muggs who's eager to see him again. The joke's on him because now she's a international model still interested in him.

Of course, the most interesting part to me is the Archie-Betty-Veronica love triangle. Despite Archie's cunt fiancee, Veronica attempts to seduce him the first night of the reunion. Even though this is a sexualized (thank God!) PG version of Riverdale, Archie remains true to Pam and manages to resist Veronica's wiles. (Maybe he has learned something since high school).

Veronica divulges this information to Betty who then, through her thinly veiled jealously, lectures Archie on where his loyalties lie. However, she admits her envious feelings and the two decide their reawakened sexual tension is solely rooted in nostalgia as the inch closer and closer. Their lips touch, but Betty pulls away. This, to me, is the greatest almost kiss in cinematic history.

I respect the whole wholesome thing that Archie has going for it. That's one of the reasons I fell in love with the characters. I was obsessed with the wholesomeness of the 50's when I was first introduced to the comics and those characters reminded me of it. But now that I'm older, and passed my teen years, I am aware of how unrealistic the Riverdale teen scene is.

Let's stop beating around the bush. Being the hot blooded spirit of the American teenager, Archie wants to bang both Betty and Veronica. Sure, Betty will bake Archie cookies, fix his car, and do his homework, but it seems unlikely she'll be getting on her knees for him. So after a night of studying with the girl next door, Archie needs to let off some steam and who better to do it with than Veronica, the girl who's always strutting around in those tight designer clothes and come-fuck-me heels? But, alas, the joke's on him because Veronica's just as prude as Betty is, if not more so. Veronica just knows how to wield her sexuality in such a way that never requires her to drop her panties.

Sex is never mentioned in the Archie comics universe. And if it is, it is done within the sanctity of marriage. Behind closed doors. In bed. Lights off. Missionary position. For procreation. In Archie Return to Riverdale, Archie and Betty discuss The Night of the Storm in which they were trapped together all night long, but didn't do IT, even though their parents thought they did. I am so grateful for this small piece of dialogue. I am so glad IT at least existed for them in high school. During the library almost kissing scene, both Betty and Archie express regret for not doing IT when they had the chance.

Note: This is a panel from a 1972 issue of Betty & Me where Archie's Jalopy gets a flat, drives into a river, and leaves the twosome soaked and freezing. They have to pose as a married couple to check into a hotel to get warm. This is the closest known story in the Archie comics canon that deals with sex.

Later on in the movie, after Betty has finally realized what a jerk off Robert is, she goes to Archie's hotel room with seduction in mind. She hands him a piece of her latest writing, a sex scene from a romance novel in progress. Archie is surprised that his sweet little doormat has something burning inside her. Betty unbuttons her dress and demands him to "make her a woman" by living out her shower fantasy.

But with this still being Riverdale, the scene turns into classic Archie farce when Veronica shows up with a similar mindset. And then cuntface Pam arrives. This gives Archie a chance to escape. Betty and Veronica decide Archie must decide, once and for all!!! (Note: this was before the Love Showdown storyline).

The end of the movie comes and no decision is made. (Oooh, so sorry if that ruins it for you!) Pam breaks off the engagement because she can't control Archie. And Betty dumps Robert because she's tired of being pushed around. Jughead and Jordan move back to Riverdale. Veronica moves back in with her father to work out their issues. Betty moves back to work on her future as a romance novelist. Archie decides to stay despite an assumed pay cut. And everyone forgives Reggie. So, they all return to Riverdale. How quaint...and depressing.

Like I said, it's shit. The movie has never had an official DVD release but can be purchased off of or the Archie comics website on VHS. That's the copy I own. However, I have to warn you that several scenes from the original NBC broadcast have been cut from the video. Some of it you would never miss, trust me. But most notably, there are four high school flashback scenes involving Archie trying to decide who to take to the prom that are inexplicably cut. WHY!? These are great scenes, and add to the depth of the characters. The scene where Betty tells Archie she doesn't want college to be just like high school, even though that's what he expects, is especially touching.

The casting is meh if you ask me. I've read a lot of bitching reviews about it, but really, there's noting atrocious like Rosie O'Donnell as Betty Rubble. I think Karen Kopins captures Veronica better than anyone else captures their character. The scene at the end where she confronts her father is definitely the best acting in the movie.

So there you have it. A review of Archie Return to Riverdale, the shittiest movie on Jordyn's Official Canonized List of Favorite Movies. Chances are, you'll never have to endure this movie, unless you're my friend, then at least one forced viewing will be in your future. Get excited.

Favorite Screencap
Shut up.

P.S. I apologize for the shittiness of the screencaps. I captured them off of youtube. If you want to watch the whole movie with deleted scenes, that's where to do it.

1 comment:

Donna said...

I was in this film and I can attest that Lauren Holly couldn't act her way out of a paper bag...OH MY GOSH!