[box cover]

My Bodyguard

What happened to actor Adam Baldwin? Do people confuse him as a slightly off-center other Baldwin brother (which he is not)? Do they think that one Vincent D'Onofrio (an actor he is mistaken for by less-perceptive film watchers because they're both in Full Metal Jacket) is enough? Is he too tall (6'4") for leading-man status? Was it his unfortunate choice of starring in D.C. Cab? Whatever the reason, Baldwin is an actor who has worked steadily through the '80s and '90s, notably as a guest star on The X-Files, but he's never had a marquee billing to showcase his scarred, handsome, shaggy charisma. In Tony Bill's sweet My Bodyguard (1980), he is something a revelation. Amidst what is essentially a simple teen movie about the little guy overcoming the school bully, Baldwin is a lumbering, wounded presence reminding us, without melodrama, of the deep sadness of neglected youth. Though the film is known more for the early work of the hot young Matt Dillon, it is Baldwin who takes the picture and gives it the extra grit that raises it above after-school special material. Chris Makepeace (you may remember him from Meatballs) plays Clifford Peach, a bright 15-year-old who's the new kid in school. On his first day, the school bully — the slick, but really dorky, Melvin Moody (Dillon) — immediately targets him. Cliff makes the mistake of not giving up his seat to Moody, which enrages the strutting teen. Moody later corners Cliff in one of those horrifying institutionalized high school bathrooms with an offer Cliff just can't accept. Attempting to frighten Cliff with the horrors of Ricky Linderman (Baldwin) — the supposed school psychopath who's rumored to rape old ladies, kill cops, and even kill his own little brother — Moody offers protection against him. But Cliff has to pay a $1 per day for these demeaning bodyguard services. Cliff refuses, and comes up with a better idea, approaching the hulking, haunted, army coat-wearing Ricky for protection. The two become friends of sorts, and Ricky, who lives in the worst part of the city, find's Cliff's life an exotic one. Cliff lives in a swank hotel managed by his father (Martin Mull) that's livened up by his youthful grandma (Ruth Gordon). It's polar opposite to Ricky's wretched home-life where dad's occupation is "watching television." Their differences bring out the sadness in Ricky, and in an intensely emotional scene Ricky explains to Cliff what really happened to his deceased little brother. It's a remarkable piece of acting where Baldwin expresses sadness, rage, and finally embarrassment over the tears he uncontrollably sheds. But it's so wonderfully subtle — Baldwin never breaks down, becomes histrionic, or even allows his voice to crack more than once. Like a troubled tough person, he jumps on the subway, cutting off his horrible confession and simply leaving it at that. The scene is very real, un-sappy, and unforgettable, and My Bodyguard should be remembered for Baldwin's shining moment. Fox's DVD presents a good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) from a somewhat-scratchy source-print, with pan-and-scan on the opposite side. The passable audio is available in Dolby 2.0 Surround, as well as a French 2.0 track (it's funny to hear Matt Dillon threaten people in French), with English and Spanish subtitles. Supplements include a theatrical trailer and five nearly identical TV spots. Keep-case.
—Kim Morgan

Back to Quick Reviews Index: [A-F] [G-L] [M-R] [S-Z]

Back to Main Page