A correction was made to this review on Oct. 5, 2005.
Little-seen cult item from 1979, “Over the Edge” is one of the best pics ever to chronicle teenage delinquency from the kids’ POV. Warners is to be applauded for finally giving it a homevideo release and enabling a new generation to see it, but it’s disappointing the disc carries nothing more than a commentary and trailer. A film with this kind of legacy and following deserves much, much more.
Commentary is highly informative and a must listen for fans of the movie. Pic was based on real-life events that took place in the planned suburban community of Foster City, Calif., where disaffected teenage youths eventually rebelled, locking their parents inside the school during a PTA meeting and then trashing everything, blowing up cars and firing guns. Helmer Jonathan Kaplan is careful to point out that almost never do the kids direct their frustrations at other people; the violence is limited to inanimate objects.
Kaplan had hoped to shoot in Foster City using the teenagers involved in that rebellion, but child labor laws proved to be too restrictive, so the pic was shot in Aurora, Colo., just 10 miles away from Columbine High School in nearby Littleton.
Disc falls into the typical trap of an insightful commentary, throwing up great ideas for DVD extras (e.g., discussing specific deleted scenes) which are then lacking from the disc.
Vast majority of teenage cast were local non-pros and recruited by scribes Tim Hunter (“River’s Edge”) and Charlie Haas. Only a 15-year-old Matt Dillon (his screen debut) and a young Vincent Spano are recognizable to today’s auds. Commentary includes several amusing anecdotes on the casting, including the story of how Dillon was discovered getting kicked out of school for smoking in the boys’ room.
Pic’s authentic milieu is revealed to be a direct result of the teenagers input on everything from dialogue to set decoration and music. Indeed, the relish the kids get from trashing the school is eerily palpable. Even Dillon, whose character has been killed by this point, insisted he be allowed to smash something up since all the other kids got to!
Much has been made of the pic’s ’70s rock soundtrack, reflecting the changing tide from classic rock (Led Zeppelin, Cheap Trick) to punk and New Wave (Ramones, the Cars). Kaplan reveals it was his teenage actors that bought the new music to his attention, which proved handy when his original choice of the Who’s “Baba O’Riley” for the finale was too expensive. Kaplan describes how the sequence was edited to deliberately match the Who track — leaving the viewer to imagine another DVD extra that could have been.