The appeal of the 1980’s teen sex comedy was that it was a highly profitable format – and its downfall is that it was a format where lightning rarely struck twice. The best gags, most entertaining characters and the thrill of novelty was usually spent in the first installment of any teen sex comedy series. The sequels only worked if the filmmakers were willing to go out on a limb and get really crazy/weird with the sequel (best example: Porky’s II: The Next Day). Otherwise, attempts to follow in the footsteps of a hit teen sex comedy were a matter of “same schlock, different day.”
And that brings us to Loose Screws. This informal sequel to Screwballs once again chronicles the triumphs and travails a group of hornball truant-students who get punished and decide to rebel. Our heroes this time are hunks Brad (Bryan Genesse) and Steve (Lance Van Der Kolk) and nerds Hugh (returning cast member Alan Deveau) and Marvin (Jason Warren, also returning).
The quartet is forced to attend a summer school for repeat-offender students, where they immediately run afoul of its hardass principal (Mike McDonald) and develop an interest foxy French teacher Mona Lott (Cyd Belliveau). The group makes a bet to see who can score with Lott but when she manages to rebuff every attempt and cozy up to their new principal enemy, they plot an ambitious revenge for the end-of-session rally.
If a lot of this sounds familiar to any Screwballs fan, it should. Loose Screws subscribes to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” theory of sequelizing and recycles every distinguishing moment from its predecessor: the hunk/nerd alliance of heroes, the four betting over who will score with a woman first, the accidental discovery of blackmail material on the principal and the chaos-during-a-group event finale. Even specific gags are recycled: each hero is once again introduced in the middle of doing something pervy, they all pose as phony doctors to give breast exams to the female coeds, one of the hunks dresses in drag to see the girls naked, etc.
The end result is intermittently amusing but never takes flight because it is so busy recycling the highlights of the first film. There are a few new elements introduced, like a group of truant girls that the heroes become interested in – but even that is thrown aside after a promising setup to continue with the recycled hijinks. As is often the case, the reheated leftovers are a bit stale: none of the repeat gags improve on the originals and the attempts at a stronger emphasis on plot don’t really pan out as the film constantly hedges its bets by shifting back into episodic-gag mode.
That said, Loose Screws is easy to watch despite its problems. Rafal Zielinski’s direction is very visually slick and sharp editing keeps the film rolling at a brisk clip (it’s a mere 77 minutes, with credits). The frequently undressed female cast is attractive, with Belliveau being particularly appealing because she also has good comic timing. Additional period charm is added by a soundtrack packed with plenty of original new wave tunes: sample titles include “Do The Screw” and “Screw It,” with the best song being a randy, ska-styled ode to condoms called “Circular Impression.” Best of all, the filmmakers double down on gratuitous nudity and pack boob shots into every nook and cranny of the film.
In short, Loose Screws is definitely a second-tier entry in the 1980’s teen sex comedy pantheon, particularly when compared to the demented fun of Screwballs, but it is genial and boob-filled enough to amuse cult film fans nostalgic for this genre.