From the Vault: Sooner or Later
Sooner or Later, the cheesy 1979 movie – written by Free to Be You and Me lyricist Bruce Hart – stars the baby faced Denise Miller and Leif Garrett knockoff /Solid Gold Host Rex Smith in a dizzying array of late 70s after school special tropes, freeze dried hair and cheeky teen girls.
“Sex education is a joke.” Precocious 13 year old Jessie Walters surmises about three seconds before Lynn Redgrave catches her reading Babylon in Flames when she’s supposed to be watching a Sex Ed filmstrip. Oops. I guess the joke’s on her because about three pages later she meets Michael Skye, the shaggy haired 17 year old suburban rockstar (and Atlanta transplant) strutting his stuff at the local mall in Hackensack.
Jessie decides it’s true love and so naturally cannot tell Michael (did I mention she just happens to stumble into a Eddie Nova’s guitar studio and Michael happens to be the teacher) anything remotely resembling the truth about herself. Either way this is good stuff here. Jessie is adorable and smart and innocent, but at the same time very savvy.
Still she’s THIR-FUCKING-TEEN and as her friend Caroline astutely points out, “Older boys are different. They’re like MEN only younger.”
And we’re OFF.
Sooner or Later is painfully outdated in ways that don’t really matter, but timeless in all the ways that do – honest and refreshing take on first crushes and their real world application difficulties. Miller is fantastic at portraying the kind of world weariness that must feel very grown up to a child, but is hilarious from an adult’s perspective. It is that ability to evoke resonance without seeking to universalize, which takes some of the sting out of the abysmal production values, corny dialog, cringe-inducing musical performance/soundtrack and over reliance on sprayed on jeans.