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Film / Lucas

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"Hey, I'm a party animal."

Lucas is a 1986 American Coming of Age dramedy film, written and directed by David Seltzer and starring Corey Haim, Kerri Green, Charlie Sheen, Courtney Thorne-Smith, and Winona Ryder (in her film debut).

Lucas Blye (Corey Haim) is a nerdy 14-year-old kid who, due to his high intelligence, was advanced up a few grades and is currently attending high school in a Chicago suburb. He meets Maggie (Green), an older girl who just moved to town, and the two become the best of friends over the course of a summer. Cut to the beginning of the school year, and Lucas has become infatuated with Maggie, who — to his dismay — soon develops her own crush on Cappie Roew (Sheen), a senior and captain of the football team who acts like Lucas's bodyguard.

The film was well-received by critics (notably by Roger Ebert, who gave it a very glowing review), but bombed at the box office. It has gained a cult following over the years, however.

Compare with Angus, another coming-of-age film centering around a social outcast.

Tropes in this film:

  • Abusive Parents: Lucas's father is at least shown to be very neglectful, given the state of his son's clothing and the fact that Lucas knows he can't be relied on to even sign a piece of paper (he might even be too scared to ask).
  • The Alcoholic: Rina believes Lucas's father is this, knowing a little more about his life than Maggie or Cappie. He's said to have shown up drunk for a parent-teacher conference.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Lucas is infatuated with Maggie who doesn't reciprocate his feelings. Meanwhile, Rina seems to be really taken with Lucas, who is completely uninterested in her except as a friend.
  • Animal Motifs: Lucas has a fascination with insects in general, and as a Coming of Age Story the movie highlights locusts (who take a while to grow), and dragonfly nymphs (who become attractive adults) in particular.
  • Blatant Lies: Lucas tells the principal and coach that his father is an attorney, and tells Maggie that the luxurious house where he does yardwork is his home. In fact, Lucas lives with his father in a dilapidated trailer home next to a junkyard, not exactly a plausible lifestyle for a successful lawyer. Even before that reveal, Lucas' own unkempt appearance and tattered clothes don't exactly suggest wealth either (furthermore, a highly intelligent son of a rich man would probably attend a private school).
  • Bully Turned Buddy: By his own admission, Cappie used to pick on Lucas just like all of the other school jocks, but eventually became a friend and protector after Lucas took the time to bring Cappie his schoolwork when he was sick at home.
  • Cicadian Rhythm: Cicadas (referred to as "locusts") and their sounds appear or are mentioned several times as a recurring motif in the film. When Maggie visits Lucas in the hospital, he says that the cicadas have stopped calling and won't be back for another 17 years.
  • Classical Music Is Cool: To her surprise, Maggie finds that she enjoys classical music when Lucas sneaks her (via sewer drain) to listen to a live performance of Tchaikovsky's 5th symphony without having to pay for tickets.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Cappie's girlfriend Alise gets very irritated about the Ship Tease between him and Maggie, and they quickly break up over it.
  • Cruel Cheerleader: Subverted. Lucas considers the cheerleaders to be frivolous, and some of them do join in The Freelance Shame Squad once or twice (although not with all the context after the shower room prank) and as Maggie and the other new cheerleaders are being welcomed its pointed out that they have plenty of reasons besides social status to join the team (such as regular exercise, and college resumes). Of the main cheerleaders, Maggie is a pretty good person, and despite some flaws, Elise is nicer to Lucas than most of their classmates. Overall, while Lucas isn't portrayed as necessarily wrong to feel resentful towards the cheerleaders, Maggie has a point when she tells him;
    Maggie: Don't call people superficial when they just want to have fun!
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Part of the Principal's reasons for standing in Lucas' way when he wants to join the football team, stating that he's "doing you a favor."
  • Determinator: Perhaps Lucas' most admirable trait is that no matter what kind of humiliation or torment he suffers from his peers, he rolls with the punches and dusts himself off and keeps right on going when he gets knocked down:
    "You can't make me quit! EVER!!"
  • Deadpan Snarker: The football coach throws in some sarcastic quips, such as when he agrees to put Lucas out on the football field:
    Lucas: What position?
    Coach: Prone!
  • Did Not Get the Girl: A particularly bittersweet case, as Maggie really does love and care for Lucas as a friend, but it takes him a long time to fully understand the "as a friend" part, and he's deeply hurt when she falls for Cappie. Mind, it takes a lot of the sting out that Cappie is a genuinely good guy who also cares a great deal about Lucas. note 
  • Everyone Has Standards: Most of Lucas' former tormenters show this side of their personalities after he's injured.
    • Even Bruno and the other football players who previously enjoyed tormenting Lucas are visibly shocked and saddened when they see that he was seriously injured on the football field. Bruno and his friends may have wanted to ridicule and humiliate Lucas, but they never wanted to cause him serious harm.
    • The football coach put Lucas in the field hoping that he'd get slammed around and bruised enough to finally give up and leave him alone, but his reaction to seeing Lucas unconscious and bleeding on the field shows that it wasn't his intent to have Lucas seriously injured.
  • Fat Best Friend: School photographer Ben is one of Lucas' few friends and is a little chubby. He isn't afraid to stand up to Bruno during an argument at the movie theater though, even before Cappie intervenes.
  • Foreshadowing: When Lucas and Maggie are hanging out with Cappie and the Jerk Jocks they encounter a group of locusts. Lucas shows one to the others (who seem interested) until one of the jocks knocks it out of his hand and the group collectively squishes it. That locust ain't the only thing that's gonna get squished by jocks before the movie's over.
  • The Freelance Shame Squad: Lucas gets the squad sicced on him four separate times!
  • Friend to Bugs: Lucas is interested in insects, but he doesn't collect them because that would require killing them. He's obviously heartbroken when one of the jocks riding with Cappie kills the cicada ("locust") that he caught.
  • The Ghost: We never see Lucas's father. Though Lucas makes grandiose claims about him being a lawyer, it turns out that he and Lucas are poor and live in a trailer home, and it's implied that Rina's correct when she suspects him to be a neglectful lush.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The football coach only agrees to put Lucas on the field after Lucas insults him, hoping that Lucas would finally learn his lesson after being roughed up a bit and humiliated. Instead, Lucas winds up in the hospital, probably with a concussion and broken bones.
  • Groin Attack: Some of the meaner guys on the team put liniment on Lucas' jockstrap, forcing him to run across the schoolyard to find a drinking fountain to hose it off— while numerous other kids point and laugh, of course.
  • Hope Spot: Lucas doesn't do too terribly badly on the first.
  • Hypocrite: Lucas encourages two-years-older Maggie to keep an open mind and be understanding about her father's younger girlfriend (because of his own interest in her), but when she shows an interest in cheerleading both to make more friends and because it might be fun (and because she's interested in Cappie) he nearly cuts off their friendship.
  • Jerk Jock:
    • Subverted with Cappie Roew. Cappie used to bully Lucas, but did a Heel–Face Turn after Lucas helped him keep up with his studies when he fell ill and became Lucas's friend and protector, and he's nothing but a Lovable Jock in the story proper.
    • Played straight with Bruno and most of the other football players, at least until Lucas is seriously injured on the football field and winds up in the hospital (after which they show him some respect and kindness).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While Lucas and Maggie care about each other, they treat each other cruelly out of frustration.
    • When Lucas feels rejected, he insults Maggie, taunts her about sleeping with Cappie (which she probably hadn't), and tells her to leave him alone. Eventually he comes to accept that she cares for him as a friend even though there isn't and won't be any attraction or romantic interest.
    • Maggie may be a bit short with Lucas at times (like when he asked her out to the dance, and she rejects him), however she still cares for Lucas as a friend, and doesn't join the other kids when they ridicule him. Plus she even cheers him on at the game, and is deeply concerned for him when he gets injured.
  • Kick the Dog: After Lucas insults him the coach decides to put the scrawny kid on the field in order to teach him a lesson. And then Lucas is brutally tackled and the coach is shocked and dismayed.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Subverted. Maggie thinks Lucas is this, because she always sees him fooling around in the garden of a huge, palatial house on the nice side of town. Rina explains much later that he merely works as that family's gardener, and his real home is a run-down trailer he shares with an abusive, alcoholic father.
  • Loser Son of Loser Dad: Mostly averted. It's revealed that Lucas lives in a trailer with his alcoholic (and probably unemployed/underemployed) father. Lucas himself is academically successful and is probably on a path to college and eventually a good career and life, despite being something of an eccentric social outcast.
  • Love Hurts: When Lucas realizes that Maggie doesn't return his affections — worse, that she IS interested in his football player friend Cappie — he is shattered. After a failed attempt at kissing her (met with an amused "what are we going to do with you?"), Lucas screams at her repeatedly to go away. The next day, he tries to go out for the football team, an act his band friends interpret as "suicide."
  • Oblivious to Love: While Lucas misreads Maggie's affection as being more than it is, he remains utterly clueless of Rina's obvious interest in him.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • The cheerleaders (generally presented as nebulously corrupt, at least from Lucas's point of view) are the first ones to show concern for Lucas when he's struggling on the football field.
    • After Lucas gets out of the hospital, the remorseful jocks get him a letterman's jacket and do a Slow Clap.
  • Rules Lawyer: When the school's football coach tries to keep Lucas from trying out for the team, Rudy cites a sexual discrimination act on why he has to be given the same chance as everyone else, and threatens to sue if he isn't.
  • Slow Clap: Played straight at the very end.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Lucas gives it his all in the climatic football game, but it turns out that no matter how much fighting spirit you have, being felled upon by several burly jocks when you're half their size is going to put you out of the game - and into the hospital.
  • Villain Respect: Even the worst bullies on the football team cut Lucas some slack and show him some appreciation after he's hurt in the game.