After a long music video credit sequence, Tuff Turf opens with a group of Los Angeles Valley teen toughs straight out of Michael Jackson‘s Beat It video, mugging a businessman.
The hair-sprayed bandana gang is led by big-chested Nick (thirty-something looking Paul Mones) and his devoted main squeeze, Frankie (Kim Richards of The Nanny and The Professor and Escape To Witch Mountain fame, now all grown up).
Morgan Hiller (James Spader) rides his bike past the gang spraying them with beer and ruining their crime. Morgan is an East Coast rich kid who relocated to LA after his family lost their fortune. Now the former prep school rebel has to figure out how to fit in at a rough public school – it didn’t help to make enemies with Nick and his crew.
Even after they spray paint in his face and publicly mess up his bicycle the nearly fearless Morgan continues to woo Frankie, pushing Nick’s wrath even further.
Aided by his only friend at the new school, a New Wave drummer named Jimmy (Robert Downey Jr), Morgan steals Nick’s car and takes Frankie and her trashy gal pal to a posh country club, making fun of the snobs.
The film ends with the inevitable showdown between Morgan and the creeps, and when you think his goose is cooked, out of nowhere Jimmy shows up with some (previously un-introduced) attack dogs.
There are long, strange musical performances from a horrible band called Jack Mack and The Heart Attack (whose rendition of Green Onions sets the punk kids agog) and the soundtrack is also filled with songs from The Jim Carroll Band – with a seeming unending performance in the film from the very David Bowie-looking Jim Carroll.
There’s also a painful moment when the kids break out in a spontaneous, highly choreographed dance number!
Also in the film is Catya Sassoon, Vidal‘s daughter, making her screen debut at the age of 16.
Robert Downey Jr