THE VAN 1977


Street Machine - - Fanging Flick -

NEw-mil­len­nium killjoys best leave any po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness at the door be­fore tuck­ing into this 70s com­ing-of-age romp. Di­rec­tor Sam Gross­man aimed The Van fairly and squarely at the hottest combo of the time: sex, drugs and cus­tom vans.

Bobby (Getz) is a day­dreamer of a teen try­ing des­per­ately to nav­i­gate his way from school­yard nerd to reg­u­lar ben­e­fi­ciary of the ‘free love’ vibe. With his se­nior year done and dusted, he scrapes to­gether a down-pay­ment for a hot­ted-up Dodge van dubbed Straight Ar­row; we’re talk­ing side­pipes, spoil­ers, fluff ev­ery­where and – wait for it – a wa­terbed, us­ing money saved work­ing for Andy (Devito) at the lo­cal car wash, topped up with a grad­u­a­tion cheque from his par­ents.

He hits the streets hop­ing this van will be­come a su­per­mag­net for the chicks, but his moves need some pol­ish­ing if he hopes to score: Bobby: “Hey beau­ti­ful; you into studs?” Hot blonde: “Yeah, but I’m not into ass­holes.” A num­ber of crazy li­aisons fol­low, but Bobby has his sights set on one girl in par­tic­u­lar. He dreams of rid­ing the waves of his wa­terbed with lo­cal horn­bag Sally John­son (played by the dreamy Con­nie Lisa Marie), but Sally is for­bid­den fruit and – as per bloody usual – dat­ing the lo­cal beef­cake-slash-dip­shit, Du­gan (Oliver).

Du­gan may re­fer to him­self in the third per­son, but he sure as hell drives the tough­est van – a black-with-flames Chevy that he races for cash against any lo­cal tak­ers.

Amongst the heady shenani­gans that be­come a sta­ple of Bobby’s new life, he is lum­bered with care­tak­ing the sour, whiny, van-hat­ing Tina (White), an oth­er­wise third wheel to his best mate Jack (Moses) and her gal-pal Sue (Barkin). Sadly, Bobby some­how takes a shine to Tina and starts to lose the ‘free’ part of his free spirit, as she pep­pers him harder than hail­stones at your lo­cal car yard.

Bobby spots his monthly van pay­ment to Andy to help him cover a gam­bling debt, but when Andy can’t re­pay it in time, it’s up to Bobby to make some quick van-sav­ing cash by knuck­ling it out in a street drag against the al­ways flex­ing Du­gan.


THE Van is your typ­i­cal B-grade 1970s cheese flick topped with a splash of Benny Hill-es­que goofi­ness for good mea­sure. It doesn’t take it­self too se­ri­ously and nei­ther should you as a viewer if giv­ing it a run. I en­joyed the cus­tomis­ing scenes, and the beach show is a snap­shot of just how crazy and huge the van scene was at its peak. There are a few laugh-out-loud mo­ments tucked in there – which for me cen­tred around dis­as­ters with the wa­terbed – but on the whole it’s a movie from a time of sim­ple plea­sures, when film-mak­ing wasn’t stran­gled by the need to keep every­one happy.

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