An American in Oxford
I watched "Oxford Blues" for the first time towards the end of the 80s and even then it felt like an old movie, which may not be such a surprise as it is an uncredited remake of "A Yank at Oxford" a movie from 1938. I say it feels like an old movie for a couple of reasons, the fish out of water American at Oxford rubbing people up the wrong way is seriously old fashioned as is the portrayal of English students as pompous toffs and the way they treat him. As such "Oxford Blues" feels like someone has tried to remake a movie they once liked, using the charm of Rob Lowe to puts bums on seats without thinking whether or not the story was current or not.
Nick De Angelo (Rob Lowe - Class) parks cars at a Vegas casino but that is not what he plans to do for much longer as he is heading to England and Oxford University to be near his dream girl, Lady Victoria (Amanda Pays) and with a little bit of computer hacking he will be near the top of the list for a placement. But his arrival at Oxford doesn't go down well be it with the Professors or the English students who take offence to his cockiness and lack of discipline. Fortunately for Nick he is an ace rower and not only does it give him the chance to get closer to Lady Victoria but also prove his worth with a little help and encouragement from fellow American Rona (Ally Sheedy - WarGames).
After what is an amusing opening which sees Nick satisfying an older woman for money, everything heads to Oxford and Nick cheating his way into the University just so that he can get close to his dream girl Lady Victoria. From then on in it is entirely obvious as we watch him going after Lady Victoria, meeting Rona who not only obviously has the hots for him but are destined to be together and of course winding both fellow students and professors up the wrong way with his cockiness. As such you know that Nick will end up in trouble as a select group try and get him booted out before eventually coming good, it is as obvious at that.
But here is the thing, the whole styling of it with the English students at Oxford being pompous pricks through to Nick being almost the only American feeling victimized is so old fashioned. Maybe director Robert Boris was going for this, the over the top snobbery of the English students but in doing so it feels incredibly false, as if he took the characters from "A Yank at oxford" and just cast young actors in identical roles. And it's not just the characters which feel wrong as the whole bit about Nick being the American enemy is just as over the top and wrong for the 80s. As I said maybe Robert Boris was going for this trying to be funny by being so OTT but it feels seriously out of place.
What also ends up feeling wrong is the way the rowing element of the movie is covered. Now I don't know much about rowing but what we get is just as OTT as the rest of the story with false drama to try and heighten the tension of the important and frankly seriously unbelievable big race. Ironically that is not the worst of it as we also get a Rocky-esque training montage thrown in for good measure which borders on the cringe worthy as we watch Rob Lowe pump iron to a rock soundtrack.
One thing is for certain and that is Rob Lowe has been cast for his youthful looks, his sex appeal and cockiness and as such Lowe is perfect on all accounts. But it is such a wrong character that too often it borders on the corny. Lowe is not the only one who suffers with a poor character as Ally Sheedy is saddled with an incredibly weak character whilst the British contingent which includes Julian Sands, Cary Elwes, Julian Firth and Anthony Calf all have been given OTT caricatures to work with.
What this all boils down to is that there is a lot wrong with "Oxford Blues" from being old fashioned to over the top and technically it's not a good movie. But ironically there is something entertaining about it which makes it fun to watch even if it is both weak and stupid.