As I was thinking about what to write about today, I realized I hadn’t done a post for my Teenage Obsession series in a long time. I also realized – after searching the internet for “things that happened on this date in history” – that a certain movie I was obsessed with in my – ahem – later teenaged years (we’re talking borderline 20s, people) opened in theaters on this day back in 1992.
As you may remember, 1992 was a big year for movies to obsess over. However, I didn’t realize the awesomeness of this particular September 18, 1992 flick until about 5 years later. Suddenly School Ties was reborn, and for about a month of my college life it was the BEST MOVIE EVER.
I know what you’re thinking. Why School Ties? Isn’t it just a movie about boys who play football at a prep school during the 1950s? Well, yes. It is. But is also SO MUCH MORE.
Why did it take me so long to realize the true power of School Ties? Well, I can put all that blame on Matt Damon. I saw this little, relatively unknown movie back in February of 1998 (yes, I remember, whatever) called Good Will Hunting and it made somewhat of an impression on me (re: I became Damon-obsessed).
I suddenly had to see every freaking thing Matt Damon had been in up to that point, including the uber-boring Geronimo (which I don’t remember at all), but when you’re a superfan of someone, you don’t cut corners. You go all the way.
I had seen School Ties before all this, but of course I had to see it again now that I had different eyes (re: Damon-obsessed eyes). I also had even more reason to see this movie again because not only was Matt Damon in it, but so was Ben Affleck and Cole Hauser, two Good Will Hunting alums that were also real-life friends with Mr. Damon. Because, you know, any friend of Matt Damon is almost as equally important as The Man himself.
So I rented School Ties. And after about 20 minutes into it I decided that this may be one of the most awesome movies ever made. Let’s discuss the reasons why.
First off, let’s talk about the cast. You already know that Matt besties Ben Affleck and Cole Hauser are in the movie, and that’s all fine and dandy. But it also has some other greats of our time. The Encino Man himself Brendan Fraser, for example, in his first dramatic role. Fraser plays David Greene, the ringer recruited from Podunk High School to be the new quarterback. The kicker (PUN INTENDED)? David is a Jew! Not a big deal now, of course, but back in 1955? He may as well have been a Nazi.
Wait. That didn’t…um, well…you know what I mean. David being Jewish in 1955 was a Very Bad Thing.
Which brings me to another reason why this movie is awesome. And yes, it’s regarding Matt Damon. We all know and love Matt for all the awesome characters he’s played over the years. Will Hunting. Jason Bourne. Tom Ripley. Private Ryan. Charlie Dillon.
Charlie Dillon? Yes, that’s right. Matt’s character from School Ties is hilariously awesome. He plays the privileged, Harvard-bound quarterback (whoops, ex-quarterback now that Greene is around) who’s pretty much hated David from the get-go. He acts like he’s cool with suddenly being second-best to David – he even told David how much he envied him – but we all know he’s dying inside. If only he had something against David that would make everyone else hate him, too…*
*Cue turning point in movie.
Charlie’s wish is suddenly granted when he overhears alums at a party talking about David and how another school “wouldn’t accept a Jew”. Well, you can imagine how happy this made Charlie. He didn’t even waste a breath in telling the other guys about it, too, in what would become the GREATEST SCENE OF ALL TIME.
Well, maybe not of all time. But definitely in the movie.
The shower scene. In which we see naked prep school boy butts.
Anyway, naked butts aside, it’s a pretty intense scene because Charlie outs David in the only way he knows how – like a total prick. Because that’s what Charlie Dillon is. A prick who’s so scared of not being the best that he has to make the people around him feel like crap.
“True story, last weekend there was a religious revival at Madison Square Garden. Bishop Fulton Sheen made such a stirring speech that 10,000 people converted to Catholicism. Then Billy Graham got up and did some inspired preaching and 10,000 people converted to Protestantism, then to close the program, Pat Boone got up and sang “There’s A Gold Mine In The Sky” and 20,000 Jews joined the Air Force!”
Oh, yes. Charlie Dillon is an asshole.
And Matt Damon plays him beautifully.
Despite the fact that it’s a movie about boys at an all-boys school, there is a girl in it as the love interest of David, Sally Wheeler (played annoyingly by Amy Locane). Well, she was sort of Charlie’s Waspy girlfriend before David came around, but as she explained to David she was never really Charlie’s girl…they just grew up together and always got thrown with each other. But she makes it quite obvious that she’s way into David, which of course makes Charlie hate the world even more.
“I have a confession to make, I think about you more then I ought too.”
That is…until Sally finds out that she’s thinking about a Jew!
At this point pretty much everyone is against David, going as far as pretending to sneeze as they say, “A-Jew!” Even good ol’ Chris O’ Donnell, who plays his roommate, turns into kind of a dick. He tries to stay on David’s side, but even he is a little weary of the fact that David lied to him about being a Jew.
David Green: “You never told me what religion you are.”
Chris Reese: “I’m a Methodist.”
David Green: “A Methodist. And all this time I didn’t know it.”
Which always pissed me off about this movie, by the way. Everyone’s going around telling David that he lied about being a Jew, but…when the hell did they ask him? It’s not like they said, “Hey, Greene, are you Jewish?” and David responded with, “Nope!” That would have been a lie. Instead David simply chose the whole “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” method and kept his mouth shut. So there was no lying. I kept waiting for David to defend himself on that but he never did. Still slightly annoyed by that. But I digress.
The penultimate moment leading up to the climax is when David sees Charlie cheating on a test. We also see another guy notice Charlie cheating, but David doesn’t know this. What is a now-hated Jewish boy supposed to do? He can’t tell on Charlie because he knows no one will believe him after “lying” to them about his religion. But someone needs to speak up or else they’ll all get punished and probably lose whatever chance they had at attending an Ivy League school. So what does David do?
He decides to confess that he was the one who cheated.
Of course as I’m watching this I’m all, “Why would you do that? Screw them all! They’re all assholes who deserve the punishment for the hell they’ve put you through! Like you said, they’re all COWARDS!!!!!!!”
“I’ll honor your traditions. I’ll go to the Dean and I will lie.”
Luckily right as he’s about to confess, the other guy who saw Charlie cheat (played by the uber-sexy Randall Batinkoff) steps up and admits what he saw. So David gets off (well, sort of…he’s still punished for not reporting it right away), Charlie gets in trouble (and probably has to go to a state university, heaven forbid), and everyone else lives happily ever after.
Charlie Dillon: “You know something? I’m still gonna get into Harvard. And in 10 years no one will remember any of this. But you’ll still be a goddamn Jew.”
David Green: “And you’ll still be a prick.”
Because school administration doesn’t want to look like the bad guy, they try to make David feel better. Maybe they can all just forget this whole thing ever happened. But how does David respond? LIKE A TRUE HERO.
“You’re never going to forget this happened. You used me for football, now I’ll use you to get into Harvard.”
Oh, SNAP! Joke’s on you, St. Matthew’s!
I watched this movie every night during my month-long winter break my freshman year of college. I watched it to the point where I knew every single sound that came from the movie. And then when winter break ended, so did my endless viewing of School Ties. I watched it occasionally, but I began to collect more Matt Damon movies, thus giving me different Damon viewing material.
To be honest, it’s been years since I’ve watched School Ties, though I did put it in to have on while I type this post. I still think it’s a good movie, and…um…hold on…I…um…
…naked butts. Gotta go.