My Tutor (1983) – A Review
“Well, how are things going between you and your…tutor?
“Well, have you tried to score with her yet?”
“Come on, Jack! What are you kidding???”
“I know I would have scored with her by now. Just you….and her…alone….by the pool. Oh, I think would have been there and back acouple of times by now, that’s for sure!”
“Jack, you don’t believe your own bullshit do you you?”
The story sounds like the perennial young male fantasy. A scenario that a young teenager would dreamily concoct in his head while sitting bored in class. Maybe that’s why I ended up watching My Tutor countless times late night on cable back in the 80’s. It’s the movie that had me wishing – ‘gee, I wish I had a teacher like Caren Kaye.’
Frustrated high school virgin Bobby (Matt Lattanzi) has flunked his French final. This puts the plans of him attending Yale in jeopardy. Bobby’s rich father (Kevin McCarthy) will not accept failure and manages to convince Yale to hold Bobby’s spot, as long as he takes a make-up French exam. But, here’s the catch, Bobby has to do better than 85 on it or his Yale dreams vanish.
Bobby isn’t too keen on his father’s push for him to follow his footsteps and becoming another ‘Yale Man’. Bobby would much rather go to UCLA and study astronomy. But his father won’t allow anything like that! He declares, “Bobby’s too young too know what he wants.”
Ensuring a passing grade on this French exam, Bobby’s pop hires the best French teacher in the city. She’s going to live at their large ritzy estate all summer and will tutor Bobby and make sure he passes this exam with flying colors.
Bobby is none too happy about spending the summer studying French. He had much more exciting plans of hanging out with his pals and trying to get lucky with a lady. But Bobby’s attitude changes when lovely Terry Green (Caren Kaye) arrives on the scene. She wasn’t exactly the type of French teacher Bobby had expected. She is confident she can get Bobby to pass his exam and win the bonus McCarthy is dangling in front of her if she manages it. She states, “I’m very good.”
Gradually Bobby and Terry start to take more than a casual student/teacher liking to each other and soon she’s not only teaching him French, but a lot of really….much better stuff!
Like I said, this was one of the early 80’s teen comedies that I watched many many times, and it was mainly for one reason – Caren Kaye.
I had the biggest crush on her after seeing this movie. She looks gorgeous dressed or undressed. Plus, the premise of getting it on with your hot teacher is one of the ultimate fantasies of youth. To this day I feel I was robbed of having an exciting educational dalliance with a teacher like Caren Kaye!
My Tutor doesn’t come off as sleazy or raucous as one would expect from its quick synopsis. The story is actually filled with a bit more heart and emotion than just a kid nailing his tutor. It’s not really as raunchy and silly a teen/sex/comedy compared to the majority of these flicks at the time. It’s like it’s just skirting the fringes of the genre.
It’s almost like a collision between an ernest coming-of-age movie, like The Summer of ’42 then tries to be equal parts funny-teen-sex raunch. It’s an odd combo. It’s like a sweet Lifetime movie got mixed in with Porky’s.
So, it kind of bounces back and forth between Bobby and Terry’s romantic encounters and then wilder stuff, like Crispin Glover being tied up and whipped by an angry leather-wearing hooker. It’s quite a leap.
Besides the sex that happens between the two, there’s some affection and tenderness that blossom between tutor and student.
Terry isn’t just a hot teacher, but an intelligent, sophisticated woman who can teach Bobby more than just French and how to perform in the sack. She can offer him actual life lessons. But still, when she disrobes to do some late night skinny dipping……wow!
They could have easily have played Terry and Bobby’s sexual trysts as a salacious sexual victory for teen viewers. Just high-fiving sexy, erotic teen fantasies on display. But they do try to give things a bit more depth and weight.
Now, I’m not saying it’s a real heavy relationship going on and you’ll get emotionally invested in these two, but it is played less hollow than what you might expect, especially during the height of the 1980s teen/sex/comedy craze.
The movie knows that teens watching this don’t just want a lovey dovey story, so cue many of the standard 80’s teen/sex/comedy mainstays!
The movie opens with some sweet piano music over the title ‘My Tutor’ being written in chalk. For a minute this looks like it will be a dramatic sweet romantic tale. But as soon as the title scene fades out cue a classic 80’s title song for the movie – ‘My Tutor’, music by Webster Lewis and lyrics by Arthur Hamilton.
Here’s how it goes –
You’re my tutor, wooo
Teach me anything you want me to learn
You’re my tutor
Turn me all the way you want me to turn
You’re my tutor
I’m a puppet that you hold in your hand
You’re my tutor
and you know that I’ll obey your command!
Pretty catchy huh? I have to admit I’ve always remembered this song decades after first watching this movie. Sometimes I just can’t help myself by bursting out a chorus of “You’re my tutor……WOOOO!”
So, if you like cheesy 80’s movie songs you might like it. But even better than the actual song are the opening credits playing over an aerobics workout class with Caren at center stage. That’s intercut with Bobby failing his his French exam.
It’s pure 80’s glory with spandex, leg warmers and headbands on display with a bevy of lovely ladies exercising to the movies theme song. You don’t see many credit sequences like this anymore.
There’s another more sappy song featured later in the film called ‘The First Time We Made Love’. It has much more of a romantic tender vibe. I have always remembered that one too, but it’s the song of ‘You’re my tutor!’ that really sticks with me.
Of course we get silly comedy mixed in with this. It mainly comes from Bobby’s best friends played by Clark Brandon and Crispin Glover making his film debut. These two pals look like they were ripped from the clichéd handbook of teen/sex/comedy friend characters. Glover’s a bit wacky and horny, Brandon thinks he’s a ladies man who drives around in a beautiful old 1950’s Chevy.
When they visit a whorehouse to finally get busy in the sex department comedic hijinks ensue. Here we get the appearance of Kitten Natividad who leaves a memorable impression. All 44-25-35 of her to be exact.
Other than then the nude scenes of Miss Kaye, it’s Natividad’s appearance and her ample bosom that left an indelible mark on viewers of My Tutor. Her scenes were another spot where VHS tapes of My Tutor constantly got wore out rewinding and pausing on.
I’m actually surprised Natividad didn’t show up more often in these type of movies during the 80’s. I always found it strange that her biggest and most memorable film appearance has been My Tutor. I think by this time she started getting into porn films, but I’m sure her fans know the details about her career than I ever would.
I never thought she was very attractive anyway and other than her huge boobs she never did anything for me. She’s certainly no Love Boat-era Charo, who I thought was much hotter.
Along with the botched whorehouse visit, Bobby also has a failed encounter with some waitress in the backseat of a car. Her boyfriend (who happens to be the leader of a motorcycle gang) doesn’t like anyone fooling around with his lady, so Lattanzi has to make a run for it half-dressed.
It’s the type of stuff that is meant to be hilarious madcap moments, but it’s not done well. I don’t think any of these comedic excursions will have you laughing. It’s all standard, uninspired scenarios that come off extremely flat. ‘Oh no! Bobby and his friends are being chased by angry boyfriends!’ My Tutor doesn’t have much in the way of laughs. It was really the nudity that had us keep coming back to it.
Bobby’s real focus and who is meant to be the perfect gal for him is Bonnie (Amber Denyse Austin). She’s his pretty classmate who he is completely smitten with, but has pushed him into the ‘friend zone’.
One funny thing is this unrequited love is setup by Bonnie writing in Bobby’s yearbook the innocuous message, “To the funniest guy in 3rd period study hall – Bonnie”.
This always confused me, since Bobby shows no kind of sense of humor, personality or any notable traits throughout the movie. Maybe Bonnie was just being polite. I guess it wouldn’t be too nice had she written, “To the most chiseled, richest, monotone guy in school, have a great summer!”
Bonnie’s not into Bobby and is more interested in her college boyfriend, who not surprisingly has a snazzy sports car and wears a college sweater. An 80’s high schooler can never compete with that! So poor Bobby pines away for her from a distance.
Meanwhile, Terry has her own relationship troubles with her ex-boyfriend. She recently left him. He’s one of these standard arrogant movie jerks that popped up all the time in movies. He’s snobby, wears preppy collared shirts, drives a small sports car.
I’m telling you, you see someone drive a small sports car in an 80s/teen/sex/comedy the odds are they’re going to be some kind of jerk!
He keeps harassing her to come back to him and has silly run-ins with Bobby and her. He crashes his beloved car chasing after them, threatens Bobby with karate moves. Really, don’t watch My Tutor hoping for laughs!
Kevin McCarthy is one of those reliable rocks who’s always fun to watch when he shows up in a movie, but he really doesn’t have much to do here other than play Bobby’s strict father. He fills the role fine, but nothing special is asked of him. Arlene Golonka is charmingly naive as Bobby’s mom. She gets to talk bad spanish to the help who can speak english. Get it? The funniest stuff comes from Glover, everything else is incredibly poorly done. They would have been smart to nix it.
Over the course of this summer Bobby loses his virginity, learns to stand up to his father, decides his own future and proclaims his love for Bonnie. Everything works out in the end! Cue credits!
Some parts of this movie I found really hard to swallow. Not for one minute could I ever believe Lattanzi would have a problem getting chicks. The kid is rich, good looking, completely ripped…..but he just can’t hook up with a girl huh?. Uh huh. Well, maybe on some other planet or in a different alternate reality, but not in the world I live.
Also Lattanzi is not very good in the film. Well, I’m just going to be blunt here – he’s very stiff and other than being a good looking guy he possesses zero charisma. He’s sort of just a blank slate with no discernible personality. Not that that would stop chicks flocking to him though!
I’m thinking him dating Olivia Newton-John at the time helped him land this gig (he married her soon after). It’s no surprise his acting career faded out. I think he only showed up in a handful of other films until quitting the business completely.
For such a classy woman as Terry, I find it hard to believe she would ever be hooked up with such a superficial jerk for a boyfriend. He’s like the most overly arrogant, self-absorbed character. I don’t know what she would ever be doing with him and she would have left him long ago. But I guess they needed to give Terry her own obstacle to overcome.
Still those are really some minor complaints. You know, ‘minor’ for this genre. It’s certainly not as goofy as similar flicks were at this time. And that’s kind of a blessing and a curse. Had the movie actually had some genuine laughs it might have become more of ‘a classic’ of the teen/sex/comedy genre than just this little niche movie that original fans only remember.
The due date of watching My Tutor I think has long passed. I don’t think someone new watching it would be entertained by it today. It was acceptable back in the day, but it’s a bland, corny movie that other than the nude bits hasn’t aged well. I can’t say I would recommend it to anyone who hadn’t seen it over three decades ago in their adolescent age and want to take a nostalgic trip into the past.
I certainly remember it, but it’s not for any of the asinine supposed comedic moments or the heartwarming romance. Nope. It all comes down to Caren Kaye. My Tutor has always been her showcase.
I remember in my young eyes she was one of those ideal movie women who I was dazzled by and just never really got over her. Plus, the story of a teen student having a tutor like that for the entire summer…..if I was Bobby I would have made French my major!
So, the legacy of My Tutor is Caren Kaye. I was never even sure if the movie did ok at the box office or what. I always assumed it must have had hit theaters at some point, but my introduction to it (as millions of others) was on cable television.
It wasn’t until I was revisiting the movie for this write-up that I looked for some information about its box office and according to boxofficemojo it looks like it was a modest hit. It says it grossed around 22 million, which for the time and compared to other teen/sex/comedies is pretty decent. Plus, I don’t think the film must of cost very much.
But for all I ever knew My Tutor had its world premiere on HBO at 1am on a Saturday night sometime between ’83-84 or whenever my friends and I first watched it.
Caren first came to prominence in the television show Blansky’s Beauties in 1977 playing Bambi Benton who was….well a very hot chick. From there she appeared in a lot of supporting parts on television – The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Starsky and Hutch, Taxi – and had some roles in a few films. She even had her own pinup poster. Then she starred in My Tutor. I think this is the film her fans remember her for most.
The film certainly had to give the actors a lot of attention when it started to air constantly on cable, but it didn’t seem to propel Caren to greater and bigger things. The only other projects I really remember seeing her in after this was the short-lived television show It’s Your Move where she starred as young Jason Bateman’s mom and in the TV movie Poison Ivy where she played camp counselor Robert Klein’s wife.
Her last credited film role according to IMDB was in 1993 in Pumpkinseed II: Blood Wings. I’ve never seen it.
The last I heard she retired from acting, earned a masters and PhD in Psychology and now has a private practice.
I’ve heard she occasionally attends autograph conventions and meets with fans. There must be millions of fans of Caren’s that spawned from seeing her performance in My Tutor. She definitely left an impact on me. I’m sure I’m not alone in still remembering her and this movie.
The wonderful opening credit sequence of My Tutor! Just try to tear yourself away from it!