My Bodyguard

Undeniably the worst film for a kid to see before entering high school (or junior high, for that matter), because it confirms one’s direst fears about school: it’s full of bigger kids who love to hurt and humiliate you for fun. If you’ve got some safe distance on the experience, though, this cable-TV favorite will ring many bells and keep you engrossed. Chris Makepeace is Clifford, a gentle kid starting his first year at a new high school. He’s not especially dorky, but he’s soft and unformed in a way that attracts bullies like Moody (Matt Dillon), who hounds him. Clifford and everyone else are terrified of another kid — Linderman (Adam Baldwin), a looming, brutish-looking punk who supposedly killed his brother. After a run-in with Linderman, Clifford discovers this kid isn’t a monster, just confused and intensely angry at himself. The two forge a friendship — the movie’s most conventional aspect, but nonetheless satisfying. Ignore the too-easy double-fight climax and it’s a fine little drama, with remarkably appealing work by Makepeace (where is he now?) and Baldwin (in an open, complex performance he hasn’t equalled since — he usually gets cast as heavies, either dramatic or comedic). Look for a young Joan Cusack in her first screen role.

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