This Sweet Dreams offering seems totally fabricated , a rip off of a then recent movie Girls Just Want to have Fun , with a title aimed at striking a cord for it’s obvious borrowing of a Bruce Springsteen song title. ( Ironically GJWTHF borrows it’s title from a Cyndi Lauper song. ) Also unless a writer is so skilled that she can make the reader feel the excitement of dancing why bother because at this point – the ‘dance’ scenes become little more than footprints on a floor to follow with helpful words like spin here , dip there. All the zing is zapped right out of them making the reader – usually 12 – rely on her probably non-existent experience of dancing to fill in the blanks. Hopefully the reader will be an imaginative 12 year old.
Our heroine , a boringly safe nice girl ( even as nice girls go – this one is pretty boring – as the book starts off her attributes include a haircut and landing the dreamiest guy in school ) named Sarah. – Oho see what I mean about Girls just Want to have Fun – the character in the movie might’ve been Janey but she was played by Sarah Jessica Parker! Safe , boring Sarah , has a safe boring boyfriend Steve. ( I’m not crazy about Sweet Dreams books that start off with the girls already having boyfriends they either become sneaky or their taste comes into question when the boyfriend turns out to be a creep – the reader wants to say well you picked ‘im honey! ) The first part of the book has Sarah gushing about having caught this dreamboat , after having got her hair cut into a non-offensive page boy which sounds like Krystle off of Dynasty’s haircut and she’s worried it’s too drastic. What will Steve think?!! Oh yawn. They go to an after game party hosted by mutual friend Doug – Steve is a soccer nut – zzz. But Sarah’s fraction of worry is the usual false alarm ( this book doesn’t even try and keep the reader in suspense – it’s more like don’t worry , everything will turn out fine …see he liked the haircut he’s really a good guy. )
Hrmph! This kind of niceness could’ve last the whole book with nothing much happening in the plot accept a pizza stain. But then Sarah notices this good looking blonde guy named Eric – okay in the movie he was called Jeff , Big whoop this only means she could be playing it a little safe by stressing this is a blonde guy. Not a dark dashing hunk like Lee Montgomery. Sarah’s doesn’t even feel guilty about her attraction she’s just glad to have found someone who’s a good dancer. Naturally her boyfriend isn’t and has to be dragged onto the dance floor.
Thus the books starts out with a handful of super nice kids an un-predatory female , who’s not out to get Eric but instead seems to view him as a potential friend. Who just happens to be hunky. Yeah try and convince yourself honey. Even the 12 year old know better.
Other references to Girls just Want to have fun – Sarah has a snoopy little brother who reads her diary and uses her lipgloss to paint racing stripes on his dinky cars. In GJWHF – Janey’s little brother broke into the bathroom with a credit card to annoy her.
In the book Sarah dances to a record named Dream Machine – in the movie one of the highlight songs is the celestial – Orbital Bebop. Near the beginning of the movie Janey and her brand new Bff Lynn ( Helen Hunt ) are chowing down on pizza while babysitting. Which becomes the scene for Sarah and Steve at their party. This might not seem too unusual as pizza became the it food… however there was an actual turning point – books closer to the early 80’s usually featured hangout joints where kids choose either unusual things – subs , steaks , etc. or the usual Burgers – but it switched mid-80’s and Pizza became almost regulation standard.
Sarah is still a good girlfriend her and bff Diane spray paint sheets as banners for the soccer game , the game is postponed due to rain and saving one banner they all head to Doug’s inviting the hunky Eric who nearly missed them having just pulled into the parking lot in his lime green Volkswagon. In the movie – Jeff had a motorcycle though his best friend sly , money schemer nerd Drew Boreman ( ha love the last name! ) had a broken down, hunchy little Mercedes. Eric comes to the party bringing two girls ( not dates ) he’s not that much of a player. Sigh. These kids are sooo nice. Well maybe not the girl he brought – Cathy a sexy redhead with a perfect figure who had her eye on Steve all year. Why are redheads always the villains? It’s downright slanderous!
Anyhoo the party’s is so disorganized – I have to admit though these ‘parties’ sound more real than anything else in books with boys disappearing to play video games, that a t.v. is eventually turned on and wouldn’t you know it what luck! they catch Dance Magic which is hosting an upcoming dance contest. Of course all the kids chime out that Sarah and Eric are good enough to enter. Making Steve more than a little miffed. But he is a nice guy and admits she is a good dancer. Next thing you know Eric and Sarah are filling out forms with Sarah admitting it was nice to think about something besides soccer for a change.
Yes and gee-willikers you might find your own identity besides just being Steve’s girl. You might become Eric’s girl. But as her bff is betting her a sundae that Eric will ask her out – even though she’s still attached to Steve and Eric is nice this scene doesn’t make much sense. But that’s okay because all this niceness is about to hit the skids. Steve has been picked to play on an all-star game in Dover two weeks away – excuse me while I yawn – and wouldn’t ya know it’s the same day as their audition. What’s amazing is that he assumes she’ll give up her plans , without even showing a hint of disappointment that he won’t be there for her. He’s not that nice! He’s got TJS – typical jock syndrome. I’m the star , only me.
Eric plays it so cool there really hasn’t been any romance – and when Sarah tells Steve they should go their separate ways cause they don’t have much in common ( anymore? ) even though she’d like to be with Eric , he’s never shown himself to be anything but a friend. I suppose you can credit the writer for not having Sarah ditch Steve before everything was a sure thing with Eric – but member the writer’s clairvoyant she knows Sarah will get Eric in the end – the character herself doesn’t have to sweat her decision.
So far this book has been zit-free like no worries! Even Steve took the break up rather well. And as if realizing this the writer decides to toss in her version of a monkey wrench – Eric who plays tennis ( and is hoping for a scholarship for college ) has been informed if he doesn’t improve his game- bye bye scholarship. This is after they learn they’re going to be on DTV whoops – Dance Magic – in the movie – Jeff was asked to throw the game to insure his father’s job ( Notice each dilemma includes something job-significant?! ) But this is another of those false alarm worries – because although he cuts down on their practice , he wins his tennis match – and even works in a few breakdance moves for their routine – I can’t picture a girl named Sarah breakdancing.
So do they win? – well lets set the stage first – Steve arrives with Cathy his new gal and Sarah isn’t even bothered. She flubs part of their routine but Eric improvises. As she worries while the judges debate he says he’s not concerned he’d only entered to be near her and since the way is now clear – he asks her out – finally! Sarah is so thrilled that winning the competition takes a back seat to his offer. She’d been major worried that once the competition was over , she wouldn’t see Eric anymore. But I as a reader could only groan sure you will – painting banners for tennis matches instead of soccer! Groan.
There is one sweet notion that comes into play in the story and that is a rose Eric buys Sarah for their audition which she saves and this rose – dehydrated and kept in an envelope gets passed back and forth between them as a good luck charm. Too cute – thrifty too – think of the money a teenager could save not having to buy more roses.
Over all tepid and rather boring – with characters too nice to be human , and problems too easily solved. Beyond predictable. I can’t honestly say the writer never wrote again for Sweet Dreams – sometimes writers used pseudonyms but she never wrote under this name Carolyn Ross. I give it ** Instead rent yourself or buy yourself – Girls Just Want to Have Fun a bouncy , lively movie – about new in city good girl Janey who gets herself a spunky bff (whose school girl uniform can be transformed in a instant because of tear away velcro ) and lands herself brooding hunk of a boyfriend after she was paired up with him to enter a dance competition. The prize – to become regulars on the hit show DTV. Obstacles include her militant father , and Jeff’s feelings that lower class can never win not to mention a snotty rich villain named Natalie whose automated closet probably inspired Cher from Clueless. If you want a sneak peek – here’s the end dance scene with the totally addictive song Orbital Bebop.
In a Sweet Dreams there’s not many, most of the punchy prose has been boiled right out – but I love a false product and Sarah’s little brother eats –
* Captain Crackle! Any relation to Cap’n Crunch is pure coincidence!
* On an interesting note – considering this book borrows it’s title from Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark –
The video where he pulls Courtney Cox on stage – wouldn’t it have been better to have put her on the cover – considering she did model for Sweet Dreams!
* I think with that wagging finger she’s saying very funny , Peacherino