Drive-In (1976)

Drive-In (1976)

“What do you mean, better? He’s got a van!”

A group of teens — including a young woman (Lisa Oz) trying to break up with her abusive boyfriend (Billy Milliken) and date a shy redhead (Glenn Morshower) — hang out and wreak havoc at first a roller rink, then a local drive-in theater while a movie called “Disaster ’76” is playing in the background.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Comedy
  • Small Town America
  • Teenagers

This hectic ensemble comedy about hijinks at a roller rink and drive-in is pure nostalgia fodder for those wanting a glimpse back at mass entertainment in the 1970s.

Unfortunately, it’s undone by a script that is no longer nearly so funny as it presumably once was — including countless wince-inducing lines by thuggish Milliken (“I’m gonna kick your lying ass until you look like the leftovers from Jaws.”), gross treatment of a black doctor (Bill McGhee) and his wife (Gloria Shaw):

… and the dumb antics of a moronic pair of crooks (Trey Wilson and Gordon Hurst). As described in the New York Times’ review, this film “possesses the virtue of fresh faces, the drawback of uneven acting, the irritation of occasional overwriting and the limited appeal of what is basically a juvenile story.” Its primary interest (though limited) is in seeing how the faux disaster flick in the background — a mash-up of Airport (1970), The Towering Inferno (1974), and Jaws (1975) — plays out.

Be forewarned that the annoyingly catchy soundtrack — including the Statler Brothers singing “What Ever Happened to Randolph Scott?” and George Jones and Tammy Wynette singing “God’s Gonna Get You For That” — may become an earworm.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Authentic glimpses of the drive-in phenomenon

Must See?
No. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book, but it surely no longer has that status.


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