The Big Bet


This 1985 film is a somewhat typical teen sex comedy that was prevalent in the 1980’s, in the vein of films like My Tutor, which is even referenced on the movie poster. Set in a High School, a teenage boy tries to get laid, with often humorous results. He makes a bet with another boy that he can get a pretty new girl in school to have sex with him. The “twist” in this film is that the male lead is not a virgin, the opening prologue reveals that he lost his virginity at 14 to a 20-year old woman, he just hasn’t had any luck with girls since then, and that the girl in question actually wants to have sex with him, but circumstances prevent it.

Written & directed by Bert I. Gordon, this film stars Lance Sloane as our lead, Chris. He’s almost 18 and a Senior in High School. He lives with his parents (whom we never actually see), in a large house in an apparently wealthy neighborhood (yet attends public school, a typical trope of 80’s films where kids of varying Class distinctions all nevertheless went to the same schools). Former Playboy Playmate Kimberly Evenson co-stars as Beth, the new girl in school who quickly catches his eye. Ron Thomas, who played the one decent kid in the Cobra Kai gang in The Karate Kid, plays Norman, the school bully here. He also was interested in Beth and is pissed when Chris asks her out first. But Norman finds out from his friend Jeff (Robert Anthony Marcucci), who happens to be Beth’s cousin, that Beth has a scandalous past which lead to her being expelled from her previous school. So Norman pressures Chris into making a bet that Chris can’t get Beth to have sex with him in a week. Chris agrees and both boys put up their cars in the bet. Then Norman goes to Beth and tells him he knows about her past and blackmails her, telling her not to have sex with Chris or else he’ll reveal her secret.

So the rest of the film has Chris and Beth going out on several dates and getting to know each other, occasionally getting physical but Beth always backs out before it can go too far. This frustrates Chris who starts looking for other outlets for his sex drive, including going to an Asian massage parlor and spa, only to find out that it’s not what he expected, and going to a peep show in a porn shop (remember when you had to actually go to a store to buy porn?).

Chris also has an active fantasy life. He has a recurring dream, which we see several times in this film, of where he goes to the house next door to have sex with the sexy housewife (Stephanie Blake) in her bedroom and then goes down the hall to the bedroom of her teenage daughter (Mary Elena Deir) and has sex with her too. Sometimes in his dream he keeps going back and forth from one bedroom to the next, until the dream eventually turns into a nightmare when the husband and father (Ermal Williamson) comes home early and catches Chris in bed with the housewife. Another fantasy sequence has Chris getting stuck in an elevator with a beautiful woman (Monique Gabrielle) and it gets so hot that they take off their clothes and then begin to have sex, before Chris snaps out of it. He later tries to replicate this situation for real with Beth, to no avail.

The Late Great Sylvia Kristel plays Michelle, an older woman who recently moved across the street from Chris and whom he gets to know and seeks out for advice about girls. A couple of times Chris notices late at night that from his bedroom window he’s able to see across the street into Michelle’s bedroom window and watch her undress.

I don’t want to spoil the ending, so I won’t say anymore about the plot. But despite the somewhat sleaziness of the premise and some of the implausibility of the story (eventually dozens of other students in the school find out about Chris and Norman’s bet and they all get in on it, betting money whether Chris will be able to score or not, yet somehow Beth doesn’t find out about this), there is still a certain charm to it. I think this is due in large part to the leads, and Sloan and Evenson have good chemistry together and play their roles with sincerity, so you can actually see them falling for each other throughout the film and believe it. That sincerity, along with the copious amounts of female nudity, make this film worth watching.

Chacebook rating: 4 STARS


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