Class Blu-ray Review

Rob Lowe and Jacqueline Bisset headline this ’80s comedy

Class is an underrated coming-of-age movie from 1983 about a virginal teenager finding a forty-something woman willing to show him the ropes in love and life. Little does the awkward student discover until it’s too late that he’s romancing his friend’s mother. It’s a cheesy scenario handled with a deft touch by its cast and filmmaker. What could have been a tawdry, cheap exploitation film ends up being one of the more nuanced coming-of-age tales from the decade.

Director Lewis John Carlino’s teen comedy evolves from a mildly amusing sex romp into a delicate exploration of friendship and the adult consequences of an unhappy marriage. Class features a cast of young Hollywood talent in their first roles that would all go on to have significant careers, including John Cusack, Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), Virginia Madsen (Electric Dreams), and Lolita Davidovich.

Rob Lowe and Andrew McCarthy play the young lads at the heart of Class, entangled in various ways with a cougar played by Seventies’ sex symbol Jacqueline Bisset. The aging actress is perfectly cast as Ellen, a come-hither older woman looking for a good time with a casual hook-up.

The true center of Class is the friendship between Skip (Rob Lowe) and Jonathan (Andrew McCarthy). Roommates at an elite, all-boys prep school, the two teenagers soon become close friends after a little friendly hazing despite their differences. Skip is the son of a very wealthy family, an affable and handsome fellow that easily gets along with everyone, including girls. Jonathan is a shy teenager, clumsy dealing with girls his own age. Jonathan also has serious ambitions of going to Harvard.

Jonathan feels embarrassed he’s still a virgin, and his friend Skip offers Jonathan a possible solution. Jonathan is supposed to travel to Chicago and pick up someone at a singles’ bar, which is obviously easier said than done, especially for an inexperienced teen.

Thinking it’s a sex comedy is completely wrong going by its vague plot synopsis.

Barring the fantasy scenario of an awkward teen boy traveling by himself to Chicago and scoring, Jonathan quickly embarrasses himself at the bar. A spectacular stroke of luck occurs when Ellen (Jacqueline Bisset) takes pity on Jonathan, eventually seducing the inexperienced prep school student as a fling. Jonathan lies to Ellen, claiming he’s a graduate student in college. Jonathan begins falling for the worldly Ellen, his first real love. As their true identities are exposed to each other, more gets revealed about Ellen’s motivations for seeing Jonathan.

For a film that could have crudely handled, the tight script is incredibly well-written with excellent characterization. The sensitive, awkward Jonathan bursts out of his shell when he starts his relationship with Ellen, gaining confidence from it. His friendship with Skip develops on a parallel track, only to come crashing down when Skip discovers Jonathan’s mystery woman is Skip’s own mother. It’s amazing to see the young cast gel together considering they would all go to bigger and brighter things.

Class is certainly an interesting movie. Thinking it’s a sex comedy is completely wrong going by its vague plot synopsis. Don’t get me wrong, the typical mix of high school shenanigans is included to lighten the mood. Class does explore friendship and the quagmire of unhappy marriages in a thoughtful, almost heart-felt manner.

Movie ★★★★☆

Class Blu-ray screen shot 2

Olive Films delivers a perfectly satisfactory presentation for the 1983 production on Blu-ray, if somewhat dated by 2016’s Hi-Def standards. It’s a technically sound, older transfer likely licensed from deep within MGM’s vaults. This is not a new film scan exploding with detail and pure resolution. Its 1080P video is on the softer side with flatter colors and average definition.

Class is presented at 1.85:1 and is encoded in AVC. The 98-minute movie’s encode averages 28.24 Mbps on a BD-25. The AVC video encode transparently renders the mostly film-like grain structure with clarity.

Like most older HD transfers struck by MGM, a touch of ringing in some shots is evident. This film transfer is likely a telecine job done a few years ago. While lacking the complete detail and sharpness of a brand-new 2K film scan, it retains decent clarity. The film elements are in very good condition, showing no overt film damage. There hasn’t been filtering applied to this transfer at any stage.

The flat, pedestrian cinematography doesn’t really pop with depth and definition. The contrast is fairly good with ordinary black levels. Shadow delineation drops a bit in a couple of scenes, slightly crushing them. Class is easily enjoyable in this Blu-ray presentation but keep your expectations in check if you are a videophile.

Video ★★★☆☆

The included audio option is a solid 2.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack. Legendary Hollywood composer Elmer Bernstein provides the tasteful, understated score for Class. The dialogue-driven dramatic comedy has completely intelligible dialogue delivered in a pleasant, inoffensive experience. This is an ordinary-sounding track with excellent recording quality.

Olive Films provides no subtitles.

Audio ★★★☆☆

A leaflet advertising other Olive Films’ releases is included.

Class Original Trailer (02:30 in HD)

Extras ☆☆☆☆☆

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.