May 08, 1989 12:00 PM

Tony Danza, Ami Dolenz

It’s amazing what low expectations can accomplish for a movie. In this case it can make the film bearable—even enjoyable on occasion—which is something of an accomplishment considering that the count was 0-2 even before the credits started rolling.

The thought of Danza in material that has been retreaded more than your favorite pair of shoes doesn’t exactly make you want to beeline it for a theater near you. But gone is his grating Brooklyn boxer shtik. He gives a funny performance, looking every bit the horrified father of a 15-year-old daughter, Dolenz, whose impossibly thick glasses and glaring braces are removed to the accompaniment of a hormonal surge of eye-popping proportions.

The manager of a Southern California rock radio station, Danza comes back from a convention only to find that Dolenz, with the help of his girlfriend, Catherine (Peggy Sue Got Married) Hicks, has been transforming herself into a teen temptress. While her ratings with the boys are soaring, the station’s plummet, as Danza spends all of his time attempting to exert total control over his daughter’s social life. “You can’t stop life from happening,” pleads Hicks. “No, but I can slow it down a bit,” retorts Danza. That’s about as involved or sophisticated as anything gets.

But how bad can a movie be when it has Wallace Shawn, perfectly cast as a maniacal psychiatrist whom Danza constantly consults as Dolenz gets closer and closer to the act of having sex? It’s also a bit of a kick to see what ex-Monkee Micky’s 20-year-old daughter, Ami, looks like (sexy) and whether she can act (the jury’s still out). The script, which was written by first timers Seth Winston and Michael J. Nathanson, lacks some of the dimension that would have made Dolenz and friends seem more like real characters than caricatures. But with the help of a diverse sound track—25 songs, from Frankie Avalon’s “Venus” to Oingo Boingo’s “Winning Side”—director Stan (Mr. Mom) Dragoti keeps things lively and makes this adolescent paean to popularity relatively painless. (PG)

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