Juvenile Delinquency

It’s easy to dock Joysticks for numerous things. In the first few minutes, Joysticks begins exposing boobs, and later stages a strip videogame session with, of course, more boobs. Following the likes of Screwballs and Spring Break, equally egregious Porky’s knock-offs in different settings, Joysticks reeks of desperation and exploitation.

And yet, there’s a figment of truth to the whole thing. A local business man stages protests and pleads the mayor to shut down the arcade for its immorality, a genuine slice of history in a movie that defies any rational reality. Joysticks is among the most ‘80s thing to ever ‘80s, with an obnoxiously corny rock soundtrack, arcade sounds, baseless nudity, cliché nerds, and leather-clad punks.

Joysticks is among the most ‘80s thing to ever ‘80s

Up against, say, Police Academy 6, Joysticks has a chance, but it’s so blatant in trying to appeal to a younger generation, it ends up clumsy, forced, and blatant in its knock-off quality [insert Steve Buscemi with backwards ball cap and skateboard here]. Star Scott McGinnis, playing the arcade’s owner, channels his impression of Tim Mathson’s Animal House performance as Eric Stratton; the two are barely discernible, other than their place in history.

WarGames, Last Starfighter, Tron, Cloak and Dagger, and others all play up the culture that gave birth to the arcade in various ways. They did unique things with the premise. In comparison, Joysticks uses the arcade as mere set dressing, an excuse and marketing hook. Weirdly, Joysticks competes with itself too – this arcade is a den of debauchery as the villain Mr. Rutter (Joe Don Baker) says it is. In standing up for the culture that formed around videogames, it makes them look abysmal, doubly so all these decades later.

If/when Joysticks finds a genuine laugh, that typically happens accidentally, whether it be camp value or sheer absurdity. Or, the sexism that’s so severe as to be hilarious in just how blatant the production was. In that sense, it’s akin Porky’s, and Joysticks goes far enough to even suggest rape casually. The ‘80s were different, and if nothing else, Joysticks serves as an emblem for how far culture has come in such a brief time.

Video

From a 2K scan done in 2015, Joysticks looks about as good as it likely can. That’s not great, but adequate. While a bit faded, the color sports great density, giving pop to the arcade decor, game screens, and side art. Yellows seem especially prominent. Flesh tones hit a natural mark and stay there.

Joysticks carries excellent contrast too, even with much of the movie set inside the dim arcade. Black levels recede to their deepest points, crushing only where necessary (the darkest corners of the arcade).

There is texture, although rare, and primarily in the tightest close-ups. The grain structure appears coarse and thick, although MVD’s encode is a stable, consistent one. Damage is persistent, but never aggressive. Scratches appear for a frame and then disappear. Dust and debris have a minimal impact.

Audio

PCM mono represents the cheapness of the production, rough, coarse, and flat. There’s minimal clarity, but Joysticks poses minimal challenge too. The score is the bare minimum.

Extras

A note to MVD’s box art design team: You’re awesome. Joysticks design, color, font choice, etc. is completely, utterly, totally perfect. As for the disc, the commentary comes from the fans, including MVD’s Eric D. Wilkinson, podcast host Heath Holland, and Diabolik DVD’s Jesse Nelson. Joysticks director Greydon Clark hosts his own commentary, and sits down for an additional interview. There’s also a fake trailer/short.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Joysticks
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  • Extras
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Movie

At times appalling, Joysticks could only exist in the ’80s and captures an exact moment in pop culture.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 31 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:


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