Obscure 80s Movies Part 2 – The Peanut Butter Solution

The Peanut Butter Solution is a bizarre and creepy Canadian movie about children’s imaginations. I remember watching it on TV when I was young and was able to track down the vhs of it in college.

The Plot: Michael Baskin is 11 years old.  He and his sister Suzy often fight while their Mom is inAustraliaand their father tolerates them while painting birds in clothes.  He attempts to sell the paintings to a dealer called “The Rabbit.”  This is important later.  Mike and his friend Connie (Conrad – who mooches off the Baskins) talk about sirens heard the previous night.  There was a fire at a nearby abandoned house where the Winos (a homeless couple, Tom and Mary) stayed.  Mike gets upset since he recently gave money to Tom.  At school the boys have art class with their teacher who wishes to be called “the Signor.”  He forces the children to draw his pet dog, Jim, frightens them, and tears up Michael’s picture because he added flames to his and used his imagination.  After school Mike and Connie go by the abandoned house to check out the fire wreckage.  Connie persuades Mike to leave but Mike climbs to the top floor and disappears inside.  Seconds later he screams (they show him here with his hair standing straight up) and he tumbles backward out of the house unconscious.  Connie brings him home and Mike seems to be okay, till he awakens the next morning completely bald.  The doctor says the condition is “hairum scarum” in which a great fright causes all your hair to fall out and will eventually grow back.  Michael understandably thinks he’s a loony.  Back at school, the principal questions the Signor’s classroom behavior as she’s had many complaints.  Also he’s changed his name, location, and appearance several times.  Red flag!  Angry that anyone doubts his artistic and teaching ability, he resigns. 

Meanwhile Michael avoids everyone till his dad and sister give him a wig and glue it on.  He’s so happy that he plays in his soccer game with Connie till a bully from the opposing team pulls the wig off.  The other team chases him home chanting a multiple verse rhyme called “Run Away Baldy.”  It’s a pretty intricate song to make up on the fly.  Michael has bad dreams about the fright from the old house and then he gets a visit from the Winos’ ghosts in his kitchen.  They are there to steal the Baskins’ food.  Mary recites a recipe that Michael seems to know exactly what it is for.  She makes him memorize it and warns him not to add too much peanut butter.  After they disappear with half the kitchen, he concocts it in the middle of the night.  Suspicious of his actions (digging in the dirt at night for instance), his family flushes the mixture down the toilet.  But the ghosts give him the recipe again the next night.  Mike finds it too runny to paint on his head so he adds four more tablespoons of peanut butter to it.  This will not end well.  His hair starts growing the next day very very fast.  So fast that Connie has to cut it during class causing the teachers to kick them out.  Mike defiantly tries to walk to school one day but the wind is so strong it tangles his long hair in the bushes.  He crouches by a house and we see the shadow of a man walk up to him. 

Michael goes missing, soon along with twenty other neighborhood kids.  Mr. Baskin trashes his studio in despair.  Desperate, Suzy and Connie go to buy art supplies to cheer Mr. Baskin up so he can help them come up with a plan.  Side note: I don’t think Mrs. Baskin is ever told that A) her son went bald and B) he was kidnapped.  That last one would most likely bring anyone home from out of the country, no?  At the art supply store Suzy realizes that a new brand of paintbrushes is made with Michael’s hair.  The owner tells them the seller calls himself the Signor and delivers on Saturdays – the very next day.  The kids camp out there then and Connie sneaks into the Signor’s truck while he’s delivering the brushes.  When the Signor comes out of the store he asks Suzy if she wants to go for a ride.  Creepy.  Out the back of the truck, Connie pours sugar through a hose making a trail.  Suzy follows the trail on her bike while an awesome song plays (see below) and people on the streets cheer her on.  Unfortunately a street sweeper destroys the trail and Suzy goes home, dejected.  The Signor discovers Connie in his truck and drags him to his lair in a warehouse where he had made all the local children into slave labor to make his brushes while Michael lies in a tower high above while his hair keeps growing. 

Back at home, Suzy and her father find out that The Rabbit is the doctor’s brother, and that they have another crazy brother Sergio who likes to call himself The Signor.  All three of them go to confront the Rabbit about Sergio since the Rabbit is buying his paintings.  The Rabbit says that his brother will be there in a few days to drop off some more.  Grumbling, the Baskins leave instead of…calling the police.  Connie attempts to rescue Michael but the Signor captures him and puts him in a net attached to the ceiling, spinning him around.  Connie starts calling the Signor his father and the Signor plays along, eager for some praise.  He paints a picture (which he can walk into) for the children with one of the magic paintbrushes.  Connie convinces him to paint Michael’s fright which he does and then goes inside.  The Signor screams and falls back out of the painting unconscious, just like Michael did.  His plan having worked, Connie cuts Michael loose and they discover that his hair stopped growing since the fright was passed on to someone else.  Michael climbs into the painting to confront his fright for a final time.  There he finds Mary and Tom and realizes he is not scared.  Suddenly the Signor wakes up, bald, and chases all the children who run screaming.  Connie’s little sister trips him and grabs the keys and she and the boys unlock the door.  The Signor is just about to catch up with them when another door opens and Michael’s family and the police arrive.  I guess they did call them.  Good for them.  Happily reunited, the Baskins return home and are greeted by Michael’s mother who is finally back.

Celebrity link: The music in this film was sung by Celine Dion, I believe before she learned English.  The song “Magic Man” is tops.  See some of the lyrics:

Listen to
The magic man
An abracaca
Dabra your life’s
In cinerama

Listen to
The magic man
A bing bang
A ding dang
And oops
your mind goes clang clang

                        Connie is played by Siluck Saysanasy who was well known for his character Yick Yu on Degrassi High.

Memorable costume: The Signor wears a coat made of Michael’s hair.  Also all the kidnapped kids wear peach karate outfits.

Memorable line: Right when the boys get kicked out of class, Michael gives a hilarious inspirational speech which gets applause from the kids.  It ends in “I want to be educated!  Not just hairy.”

Other trivia: The official title of the film at the start of my vhs is Rock Demers’ Tales For All #2: The Peanut Butter Solution.  Rock Demers is a Canadian producer who made several other films for children.

            The trailer before this film is called Making Contact (aka Joey) which reminds me of the Anthony Hopkins film Magic because of the scary dummy.

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My New Headshots

Since I am an actor, I thought I would put my new headshots on here.  They were taken by Dan Plehal.

If you would like to work with me, please contact my agent: http://talentpoole.com/contact_us.wphp

I have been told I look like Thora Birch.

thoughts on The Boy Who Could Fly

I remember seeing the 1986 film The Boy Who Could Fly in theaters when it came out and on television after that.  After just viewing it again for the first time in awhile, I have some thoughts.

1. It is much cheesier than I remember, and kind of tedious in parts.

2. Milly wears a LOT of layers.  In the sun.  And not always in matching colors.  I think Benetton designed her costumes.

3. This movie has a terrific collection of actors: Colleen Dewhurst, Fred Gwynne, Bonnie Bedelia, Louise Fletcher, Mindy Cohn, Fred Savage, Lucy Deakins, and Jay Underwood.  (Jason Priestley also had a tiny part in it but was hard to see.)

4. While the special effects look a bit silly now, at 8 years old I was pretty impressed by them.

5. The line Fred Savage says toward the end of the film is still darn funny.

6. Jay Underwood seemed to do most of the talking during the commentary.

7.  The writer and director Nick Castle has a very interesting resume.  He also co-wrote Escape from New York, Escape from L.A., and August Rush.  He also directed The Last Starfighter, of which I believe a sequel is in development.  And he played The Shape in Halloween.

8. There is a part where teenagers Milly and Geneva (Lucy Deakins and Mindy Cohn) are getting drunk and watching a music video by the The Coupe De Villes.  This is a made up band including members played by Nick Castle and John Carpenter.

9. I need to have flying dreams again.  Those were fun.

2nd Additional Glee Comment

While I know they do not match Rachel’s pictures of Hiram and Leroy, it would be hilarious if Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black played her dads.

Additional Comment to Previous Glee Post

There should be an upcoming episode where Rachel tries to determine which of two women (Kristin Davis and I guess Idina Menzel) is her real mother.  The episode should be titled “My Two Moms” which is funny because of the t.v. show “My Two Dads” and because Rachel has 2 gay dads.

Glee casting/writing idea

Dear wonderful creators of Glee,

          I think it would be fantastic to see Rachel’s biological mother in future episodes, and to see her be played by Kristin Davis.

Sincerely,

Catmonsters

Mom and Dad, I want to be an actor

When I was about 10 I told my mom that I wanted to be a performer.  She told me that she wanted me to have a childhood.  In many ways this was a good decision, however it would have made some things easier at the present time if I was already in the biz.  A friend of mine told me that she and her husband noticed their young son’s extraordinary musical ability.  They thought he may be interested in pursuing music when he gets older, as long as he has something to fall back on to support himself.

This is a common fear for parents of any child wanting to go into a career in the arts, but it seems stronger in the midwest for some reason.  I understand this fear that one may not make a living in this profession, but more often than not this fear outweighs the drive to go after your dreams and at least try it. 

I myself am not able to live without knowing where my next paycheck is coming from, but I mostly blame my upbringing.  I have many friends who do not have regular jobs and spend their time auditioning and booking gigs here and there and I really admire that.  It can be done.  And if it doesn’t work out, you can try something else.

Acting is a risky business, it’s true.  But if your child expresses a serious desire to pursue it, I think that you should encourage it in any way you can and not just say “Sure, as long as you have another career to fall back on.”   Children learn from their parents and will never forget this instilled, pounding terror that they damn well better have money coming in.  I think they forget the idea that if they work hard, it IS possible to make their dreams happen.