It’s the proto-Techno minor hit from Sweden that launched a million American teen comedy movies!
Well, maybe only two teen comedies — but I’ve probably seen them a million times.
The more famous of the two was John Hughes’ Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I saw that movie — True Story™ — the night before returning to Missouri Military Academy for my senior year. I probably don’t have to tell you what a bad example Ferris set for me, nor how perfectly I tried to follow it right up to commencement.
I’ve already analyzed Ferris enough for this lifetime, so tonight you’ll have to make do with a little less — but I’ll make this as fun as I can.
The second movie came out during senior year, just a few weeks before commencement. It’s the kinda-sorta underrated The Secret of My Success, starring Michael J. Fox.
Fox plays Brantley as the Michael J. Fox character — you know the one: Smart and a little slick, but always likable. He’s a fresh-faced midwest college grad who ends up working in the mailroom of a Wall Street firm, which is being run into the ground by Fox’s evil uncle, Howard. Howard is played by Richard Jordan as the Richard Jordan character — you know one: Smart and very slick, but rarely likable.
Fox of course saves the firm in the end, aided ably along the way by his coworker/love-interest, Christy. Christy is played by Helen Slater as the Helen Slater character — you know the one: Smart and sweet, with just enough sex appeal. He’s aided even more ably by Jordan’s semi-estranged but still-smoking’-hot wife, Vera, whose father founded the firm Howard is ruining. Vera is played by Margaret Whitton as the Margaret Whitton character — you know the one: Smart and slick and sexy as hell. I’m a decade older now than Whitton was when Secret came out, and I had a crush on her then and I have a crush on her today.
Melissa and I re-watched this one not too long ago, and if it’s no Ferris Bueller, it’s still not a bad way to spend a couple of hours amused on the sofa. But keep one thing in mind: Success is so ’80s.
How ’80s is it?
The third act begins with the classic ’80s Action Movie Mandatory Training Sequence, even though Success is an office comedy*. So instead of athletes or soldiers in torn sweats, punching and kicking and sweating away to some cheesy ’80s soundtrack rock, you get college grads in nice sweaters, sending faxes and passing out memos and parsing contracts to some cheesy ’80s soundtrack rock.
I wish I were making that up, but I’m not. Everybody from the director on down was game for the cheesiness though, and played it straight enough that you’re laughing with them instead of at them.
But back to the song.
“Oh Yeah” was the featured song in the two movies which bookended my very naughty senior year of high school. Both movies were about smart young men getting into antics which they should have been too smart to get into, but which they always proved smart enough to get out of. As a mischievous teenager, that theme rang every single one of my bells.
Except instead of ringing, those bells went “Chikka-chi-ka!”
They still do.
*Actually it’s an office comedy and a romantic comedy and a mistaken identity comedy and a sex farce, all wrapped up into one. Success at times verges on schizophrenic.