There’s a lot goin’ on in Times Square, the 1980 coming of age film that captures NYC’s then slimey epicenter in all its filth, fury and fun. The cult movie has all the trappings of a typical teen flick, with rebellious youth in revolt against their parents, not to mention an impressive soundtrack featuring the likes of The Ramones, Talking Heads, The Cars and more. Yet you won’t mistake this for The Breakfast Club for too long since this is stitched together with elements of realness not found in your average teenage angst-filled motion picture. And by “realness” we mean the rampant criminal behavior of the two 16-year-old main characters, who do everything from stealing an ambulance and driving the wrong way on the highway to working at a go-go bar after their brief life as stick-up kids and Three Card Monte hustlers doesn’t work out. (Look for playwright Miguel Piñero as the coked-up strip club manager and a quick cameo by X-rated star Sharon Mitchell in The Cleo Club scene.)
Times Square tells the tale of Pamela Pearl, a shy rich girl (Trini Alvarado), who befriends Nicky Marotta, a street-smart runaway (Robin Johnson) who together start to gain notoriety throughout the city as the “Sleez Sisters” mainly due to the coverage provided by a midnight radio DJ/guru (Tim Curry) who reports on their crazy antics (the girls go apeshit throwing TVs off the roofs of buildings and also perform a punk song on the air with a confrontational hook aimed at Pam’s dad: “Spic, nigger, faggot, and psycho / Well, I want you to know that your daughter is one.”) You don’t have to be Siskel or Ebert to sense a light lesbian subtext in the girls’ relationship as they survive alone together in an abandoned waterfront building and roam the Deuce day and night amongst all the pimps, prostitutes and junkies.
Like so many cult movies, Times Square is far from perfect, but it does rumble along with a certain energy that makes it quite watchable. Plus, all those eyefuls of old school New York set to some great music are an added bonus.
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Times Square (1980).
Directed by Allan Moyle, who also made Pump Up the Volume (1990).
(Props to BarbiCollege for the upload. H/T Holly B.)