Film review: She's Out of Control

Published: Saturday, May 6 1989 12:00 a.m. MDT

First off, the title — "She's Out of Control" — is inaccurate since it implies that the daughter in this father-daughter comedy is going bananas. Actually, it's the father who's freaking out.

But it hardly matters since "She's Out of Control" is itself so out of control, a hyper teen comedy far too influenced by MTV and John Hughes, the latter being the mastermind behind such successful flicks as "Sixteen Candles" and "Pretty in Pink."

And it's a fine example of a movie with a TV look, one that seems as if it was made for television rather than theatrical release, right down to the casting of Tony Danza ("Taxi," "Who's the Boss?") in the lead. But, to his credit, Danza tries hard and manages to bring some amusing moments to the surface, despite the superficial screenplay by first-timers Seth Winston and Michael J. Nathanson, and the vapid direction by Stan Dragoti ("The Man With One Red Shoe," "Mr. Mom").

The premise is one parents can identify with, and teenagers may also see themselves. Danza plays Doug Simpson, the manager of an "oldies" rock station who is also a widowed father of two young daughters. The oldest, Katie (Ami Dolenz), is just turning 15 and is blossoming right before his eyes, though he's too blind to notice, of course.

But when Doug goes out of town for a radio convention, his girlfriend (Catherine Hicks) helps Katie abandon her little girl appearance by having her braces removed, her thick glasses replaced by contact lenses and her hair and clothes brought up to to the '80s.

When Doug returns, the phone is ringing off the hook and boys are coming to the door in droves, all yearning to be manipulated by the 15-year-old boy-crazy Katie. Doug, quite naturally, is devastated. He's also suspicious of every boy, remembering what he was like in his teens.

Before long he's also in therapy, where Dr. Fishbinder (Wallace Shawn), who has written a controversial book on how single fathers should pull in the reins on their teenage daughters, is dispensing advice to the hapless Doug.

Unfortunately, Doug takes the advice on face value, which results in his sports car being demolished, his radio station being neglected and his daughter feeling she's not trusted.

Needless to say, "She's Out of Control" is predictable, silly and contrived, all of which could be forgiven if it were funny enough. It's not.

The cast tries valiantly to breathe life into the proceedings, but the script leaves too many characters flatly underdeveloped and the director thinks that slow-motion and manic, loud, quick cutting is a replacement for inherent humor. It's not.

"She's Out of Control" is rated PG for comic violence, a single profanity and some partial female nudity.