My Bodyguard - Chris Makepeace - Adam Baldwin

Movie Review: My Bodyguard (1980)

My brother used to watch this film over and over and over, well, you get it. This was back when they played it regularly on network television. I don’t think I ever sat through the entire movie back then (we’re talking the early to mid-1980s). I pretty much saw the whole movie in pieces. I always felt indifferent to this flick. Perhaps I was too young to understand it. Then I caught a commercial for it online and it had me curious about rewatching it. So, I rented My Bodyguard from Microsoft Movies & TV and gave it a watch.
My Bodyguard - Poster

I wound up watching it three times so I could write a… review. I don’t judge a movie so much on cinematography, direction, or anything technical because I don’t know much about those things. Emotions are what I go by; how the movie made me feel or what it was trying to make me feel. I’ll get to that at the end.

The film stars Chris Makepeace (fitting name) as Clifford, Adam Baldwin as Linderman and Matt Dillon as Melvin Moody. Martin Mull played Cliff’s father and Ruth Gordon as Cliff’s grandmother. Paul Quandt played Carson, a classmate of Cliff. The synopsis according to IMDB is as follows: “When a boy comes to a new school and gets harassed by a bully, he acquires the services of the school’s most feared kid as a bodyguard.” That is the simple version, but like any movie, there’s more to it than that. Don’t let the poster for this film fool you; this isn’t a comedy or light-hearted movie. It can get quite dark and very real.

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Cliff’s father is an upscale hotel manager in Chicago and as such, they live there. They seem to be well-off, but I think it has more to do with being able to use the amenities that come with that hotel such as the limousine. A new school year begins and Cliff is a fresh face at the high school. He makes his presence known very quickly by mocking the school bully, Moody, in front of the entire class. That’s where Cliff’s troubles begin. Moody immediately becomes Cliff’s tormentor. In an early scene in the film, Moody and his cohorts trap Cliff in the bathroom and try to force him to drink a cup of, well, whatever was in the toilet. Cliff, though small, is defiant and knocked the cup and its contents all over Moody then runs for the limousine waiting for him outside of the school.
My Bodyguard - Matt Dillon

Back at the hotel, we learn that Cliff’s grandmother is very flirtatious with the patrons, which causes her son (Cliff’s father aka Mr. Peache) some headaches. Mr. Peache, to his credit, is not overly upset by this as he finds it somewhat amusing, but he tries to keep her in check as to not get complaints from people staying at the hotel.

At school, a student missing from the first day of class shows up. There are stories about him swirling throughout the building. That student is Linderman played by Adam Baldwin in what is his first big screen appearance. He’s a very big person compared to just about everyone else attending that school. Not only is he big, he has an intimidating look.
My Bodyguard - Adam Baldwin - Chris Makepeace

In My Bodyguard, Cliff is constantly bullied by Moody & his minions. They beat him up in gym class, throw garbage in his locker, and even throw Cliff into a locker. Linderman is not blind to all of this. He sees what Moody has been doing to Cliff, but stays out of it. Around this time, Cliff realizes that Moody is frightened of Linderman and that’s when things get interesting; Cliff hires Linderman to be his bodyguard. During this time, we learn who is Linderman and why he is reclusive. A friendship develops. There is a big reveal about Linderman later in the movie that is terribly tragic.

Being a movie about bullying, there is going to be some fighting. As a former boxer and student of several styles of martial arts, I was impressed at the realism of the street fights. The thing about street fights is that they are sloppy and those without a lot of experience will not be the most graceful. The choreography of the street fights, which are at the end of the film, are pretty spot-on.

Another thing I would like to mention is the music. I don’t recall any pop music being played. Almost everything was instrumental and fit this film. Simply put, the music choices were good. Oh, Jennifer Beals, of Flashdance fame, can be seen in a few shots of the movie.

I don’t want to give away too much of the film, because I hope you will see it, if you haven’t already.

As I said earlier, I base my reviews on emotion. By that metric, I found this to be an excellent film. Though the trailer makes it seem like a light-hearted drama, even comedic, it’s actually quite sad. Yes, there were some funny moments in the film, but as I mentioned earlier, it has dark moments as well. You feel for both Cliff and Linderman and jump up in delight by the end of the movie.

Four and a half stars out of five. For anyone who has ever had a rough time in school, I think you will appreciate My Bodyguard.

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Justin M. Salvato

Writer/Vlogger at Retroist
Seeker of 1980s nostalgia, rummager of vintage computers and player of retro video games.When not writing posts of The Retroist, I'm converting Retroist audio podcasts to Retroist video podcasts.My own videos can be found at www.YouTube.com/JustinSalvato.
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