The Buddy System (1984)

PG | 110 mins | Romantic comedy | 20 January 1984

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HISTORY

According to the 25 Jan 1984 Var review, the project was the final one “initiated” under studio executive Sherry Lansing, before she departed as Twentieth Century-Fox production president.
       The film marked the debut screenplay for writer Mary Agnes Donoghue. Although newcomer Wil Wheaton, who played ten-year-old “Tim Price,” had appeared in a supporting role in the 1983 film Hambone and Hillie and provided the voice for “Martin” in the animated feature, The Secret of NIMH, (1982, see entry), The Buddy System represented his first significant feature film role. As production notes in AMPAS library files state, the picture also marked actress Jean Stapleton’s return to theatrical films after twelve years in television, where she was primarily known for playing “Edith Bunker” in the series All in the Family (CBS, 12 Jan 1971 - 21 Sep 1983).
       According to a 13 Jul 1982 HR brief, principal photography began 7 Jul 1982. An item in the Jun 1982 Hollywood Studio Magazine mentioned that filming would take place on location in Los Angeles, CA, and at the Twentieth Century-Fox Studio.
       A 6 Nov 1983 LAHExam article reported that the release was originally scheduled for summer 1983, but the studio postponed the launch until 20 Jan 1984. As noted in the Apr 1984 Box review, the picture grossed a mediocre $524,627 during its debut weekend on approximately 190 screens, and $373,069 in its second weekend of release. ... More Less

According to the 25 Jan 1984 Var review, the project was the final one “initiated” under studio executive Sherry Lansing, before she departed as Twentieth Century-Fox production president.
       The film marked the debut screenplay for writer Mary Agnes Donoghue. Although newcomer Wil Wheaton, who played ten-year-old “Tim Price,” had appeared in a supporting role in the 1983 film Hambone and Hillie and provided the voice for “Martin” in the animated feature, The Secret of NIMH, (1982, see entry), The Buddy System represented his first significant feature film role. As production notes in AMPAS library files state, the picture also marked actress Jean Stapleton’s return to theatrical films after twelve years in television, where she was primarily known for playing “Edith Bunker” in the series All in the Family (CBS, 12 Jan 1971 - 21 Sep 1983).
       According to a 13 Jul 1982 HR brief, principal photography began 7 Jul 1982. An item in the Jun 1982 Hollywood Studio Magazine mentioned that filming would take place on location in Los Angeles, CA, and at the Twentieth Century-Fox Studio.
       A 6 Nov 1983 LAHExam article reported that the release was originally scheduled for summer 1983, but the studio postponed the launch until 20 Jan 1984. As noted in the Apr 1984 Box review, the picture grossed a mediocre $524,627 during its debut weekend on approximately 190 screens, and $373,069 in its second weekend of release.

More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Apr 1984
Section R, p. 56.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jul 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jan 1984
p. 3, 18.
Hollywood Studio Magazine
Jun 1982.
---
LAHExam
6 Nov 1983
Section E, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
20 Jan 1984
Calendar, p. 1.
New York Times
4 May 1984
p. 15.
Variety
25 Jan 1984
p. 21.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Twentieth Century-Fox Presents
An Alain Chammas Production
A Glenn Jordan Film
Produced and Released by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
Dolly grip
Gaffer
Key grip
Still photog
Ultracam 35 cam, lenses and equip provided by
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Props
Const coord
Set des
Set des
Leadman
COSTUMES
Men's costumer
Women's costumer
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd ed
Addl sd ed
Dial re-rec ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Scoring mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles by
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Prod coord
Unit pub
Transportation capt
Auditor
Asst to Mr. Chammas
Asst to Mr. Jordan
Prod asst
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Here's That Sunny Day," lyrics by Will Jennings, music by Patrick Williams, performed by Gladys Knight and the Pips, produced by Gladys Knight, Sam Dees and Merald Knight.
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 January 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 20 January 1984
New York opening: 4 May 1984
Production Date:
began 7 July 1982
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
2 February 1984
Copyright Number:
PA203846
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
110
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Joe Denniston is an aspiring writer and amateur inventor, but earns his living as a security guard at The Hartman School, one of the most desirable public schools in Los Angeles, California. One day, he confirms that single mother Emily Price has given the school a fake home address so that her ten-year-old son, Tim, qualifies to attend Hartman as a resident within the school boundaries. After Joe confronts the mother and son about the scam, he is sympathetic and says he will not report them to school officials. Emily is appreciative until she gets the wrong impression that Joe is only helping because he wants to seduce her. While both adults are aggravated by each other, Tim is fond of the Joe and invites him to his Thanksgiving school play. On the night of the performance, Emily, a legal secretary, informs her mother, Mrs. Evelyn Price, that she failed to complete her court stenographer test. The controlling Evelyn does not appear surprised and reminds her daughter that she never performed well under pressure. Emily leaves her mother in the auditorium while she waits outside for her boyfriend and employer, Jim Parks, but he never appears. Meanwhile, Joe attends the play after his self-absorbed girl friend, Carrie, cancels their dinner plans. On stage in a pumpkin costume, Tim is thrilled to see Joe in the audience, while Emily is not, concerned that Joe might blackmail her over the fake address. At home that evening, Emily tells her son not to lie to classmates, claiming his father is rich and owns a Rolls Royce. Tim argues that it is ... +


Joe Denniston is an aspiring writer and amateur inventor, but earns his living as a security guard at The Hartman School, one of the most desirable public schools in Los Angeles, California. One day, he confirms that single mother Emily Price has given the school a fake home address so that her ten-year-old son, Tim, qualifies to attend Hartman as a resident within the school boundaries. After Joe confronts the mother and son about the scam, he is sympathetic and says he will not report them to school officials. Emily is appreciative until she gets the wrong impression that Joe is only helping because he wants to seduce her. While both adults are aggravated by each other, Tim is fond of the Joe and invites him to his Thanksgiving school play. On the night of the performance, Emily, a legal secretary, informs her mother, Mrs. Evelyn Price, that she failed to complete her court stenographer test. The controlling Evelyn does not appear surprised and reminds her daughter that she never performed well under pressure. Emily leaves her mother in the auditorium while she waits outside for her boyfriend and employer, Jim Parks, but he never appears. Meanwhile, Joe attends the play after his self-absorbed girl friend, Carrie, cancels their dinner plans. On stage in a pumpkin costume, Tim is thrilled to see Joe in the audience, while Emily is not, concerned that Joe might blackmail her over the fake address. At home that evening, Emily tells her son not to lie to classmates, claiming his father is rich and owns a Rolls Royce. Tim argues that it is a better than the true story about the man who left after getting Emily pregnant in high school. While Emily does not want Tim to be around Joe, he is desperate to make friends with the security guard. After Tim pesters him one afternoon, Joe drives the boy to his home, located along one of the canals in the Venice neighborhood. Tim admires the unusual inventions throughout the house while Joe works on his novel. Meanwhile, Emily tells Evelyn she would like her own apartment, but, at the moment, she cannot afford to move out of her mother’s house. Evelyn is secretly pleased, as she is reluctant to give her daughter the independence she needs. Over the Christmas holidays, Jim Parks breaks up with Emily, and Carrie tells Joe she has fallen in love with another man. At the school one day, Emily encounters Tim talking with Joe, and learns that the security guard has been loaning her son interesting books to read. When she expresses anger over Tim spending afternoons at Joe’s house, Joe explains that he is Tim’s only friend. Regardless, Emily does not want her son to see him anymore, prompting Tim to run from his mother. A week later, Emily returns the books to Joe at the school and finds him working on his novel. She apologizes for her behavior and allows Joe and Tim to continue their friendship. When Tim leaves for an overnight camping trip, Joe and Emily are there to encourage him as he reluctantly boards the school bus. In Tim’s absence, the two single adults get acquainted and ultimately have sex. Afterward, Emily claims she is still in love with Jim Parks, and Joe says he feels the same about Carrie. They shake hands and agree to be friends. As Joe and Tim continue to spend time together, Emily joins them, and the three enjoy a variety of activities. For Tim’s birthday, the three take a road trip, during which Emily confides that she gave up Tim for adoption as an infant, but soon regretted her decision and took him back. When Carrie contacts Joe for help after her car breaks down, Emily appears jealous. After dinner one evening, Joe becomes depressed about his writing ability, and Emily reminds him that he has an aptitude for inventing, which he has yet to exploit. Joe abandons his novel and soon finds an investor for his automatic dog washer. In his excitement, he kisses Emily upon telling her the good news. While Joe, Tim, and Emily celebrate with champagne, Carrie barges in to tell Joe that she made a mistake and wants to discuss resuming their relationship. Emily and Tim wait awkwardly in the kitchen until Emily decides they should leave. Afterward, Tim tries to reassure his mother they will always have each other. Later, Joe reveals to Emily that he is still in love with Carrie, and Emily tries to pretend she does not have romantic feelings for him, then becomes teary-eyed and walks away. Tim vents his anger at both his mother and Joe for the break-up of their threesome, while the adults try to reassure him that they are still friends and will continue to see each other. However, Joe spends less time with Tim and Emily to accommodate Carrie. Sometime later, Emily and Tim pay him a surprise visit and are sad to see that the Venice house is now empty and for sale. However, the experience inspires her to take the court stenographer test again. After passing and earning a better job in the Superior Court, she finally has the courage to stand up to her mother and announce that she and Tim are moving into their own apartment. At first, Tim is grumpy about the new place, but he becomes excited when his mother says they can create their own rules. Meanwhile, Joe becomes depressed living in an overpriced apartment with the neurotic Carrie. When she announces that she wants to have a baby, Joe realizes he cannot continue their relationship. After appealing to Evelyn Price, Joe learns that Emily and Tim will be at the Thanksgiving school play that evening. Emily and Joe encounter each other at the back of the auditorium and hold hands. From the stage, Tim sees the reunion and smiles.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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