by Tony Bill
The issues of school bullying are suddenly a big social issue. But, of course, the problem has been around for ages. My Bodyguard starts out with a unique solution, and ends up being one excellent film.
Chris Makepeace is Clifford Peache, who has just moved to Chicago, where his father managed a hotel. With a last name like that, you know he's going to be a target, and he soon is targeted by the confident and cruel Moody (played by Matt Dillon). In desperation, he goes to Ricky Linderman, a dark and moody giant of a boy who is reputed to have murdered his own brother. Peache offers to pay Linderman to be his bodyguard and protect him from Moody.
Linderman is played by Adam Baldwin in his first film role. You used to have to say that he wasn't one of the Long Island Baldwin brothers; but Adam now has now gotten a bit of cult fame in the role of Jayne in Firefly and Serenity. I hadn't made the connection until Serenity came out and went back to look at Baldwin's earlier roles. When I saw My Bodyguard on the list of his credits, it was a classic "That was him!" moment.
And Baldwin is great as Linderman, portraying an air of menace that clearly hides a deeper pain. He was only 18 at the time, but his acting captures the character perfectly.
But even better than Baldwin is Matt Dillon as Moody. Moody is loud, likeable, cruel, and totally sure of himself. Even his walk is that of someone who knows he's in charge. He takes over the screen every moment he's shown. I've been a fan of Dillon ever since this film, and was gratified to see his Oscar nomination in Crash.
The film is uneven. There's a romance between Ruth Gordon and John Houseman that pretty much just pads out the screen time. But the scenes with Baldwin and Dillon are all just perfect. It really captures the issues of being a victim in the dog-eat-dog world of school.
Director Tony Bill has stuck most to TV and appearing as an actor since this. I'd love to see him do something else, since his touch with actors is so great.
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