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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes

*** The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. Comedy.

Directed by: Robert Butler.
Starring: Kurt Russell, Cesar Romero, Joe Flynn, William Schallert

We got this from Netflix, a bit of nostalgia for me. It's from 1969. Disney used to make a lot of teen movies--quite a few of them with Kurt Russell.

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes is the first of three movies about Medfield College, all starring Kurt Russell as Dexter Riley, Joe Flynn as Dean Higgins, and Cesar Romero as unscrupulous businessman A. J. Arno. The other two are Now You See Him, Now You Don't and The Strongest Man in the World. Those are in my Netflix queue, too.

Progressive Professor Quigley (William Schallert) is trying to get a computer for the financially strapped Medfield College, but Dean Higgins says they absolutely cannot afford one. So the students, led by Dexter Riley, approach A. J. Arno, who has a computer he's selling for $10,000, to ask him if he'd donate it to the college.

Then a part shorts out, Dexter volunteers to go get the new part and replace it, which he does during a storm. He gets shocked, and suddenly he literally has the brain of a computer. (Really! an X-ray and an ophthalmoscope both show the flashing lights and buttons of the computer. *rolling my eyes just a little*)

Suddenly the student who was on probation is now sought after by everyone, including rival colleges and Arno, who wants to use his deductive power for gambling. Turns out, though, that not only can he think like a computer--his brain also contains the computer's memory banks, with the statistics from Arno's gambling ring, and things get dangerous.

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes was a cute movie. I enjoyed wacky, conservative Dean Higgins, who always thought the kids were up to something; and kindly progressive Professor Quigley was the perfect balance. The computer stuff was far-fetched even for the 60s (I seriously doubt anyone actually thought being zapped by a computer would put little flashing lights and colorful buttons inside someone's eyes, for example), but then so's the entire plot, so that's fun.

There's a nice little message about fame and recognizing who your true friends are, and some very funny chase scenes, particularly one involving red paint, a dune buggy, and a haystack. And it's an ordinary friend who saves the day in the end, which was nice.

Little caveat about the DVD: the movie was originally filmed for television, but then released in theaters when it turned out better than Disney had expected. So it's full screen, not wide screen. So you're not missing anything with the full screen DVD. (quite a few of the Amazon reviews cited this, so I thought I'd mention it)

Anyway, cute movie--nothing exceptional, but worth getting from Netflix and watching with the family, if only to marvel at the difference 40 years makes in both computers and Kurt Russell.

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