I remember that first news article saying Kurt Russell was going to be in a Marvel movie. I was excited that he was going to be under the Disney umbrella… but wait… he has been a Disney Darling before!
In the 60s, early 70s, and early 80s Kurt Russell starred in a handful of Disney movies including the classic, The Fox and the Hound, in 1981. One such movie was The Computer wore Tennis Shoes in 1969. He was just 18 years old at the time of the movie’s premiere. In this movie he played Dexter in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes a science student at a college who became a genius overnight after being electrocuted by the computer he was working on after a being soaked by the rain.
I sat and watched this 1969 movie full of clichés and stupidity. Let’s start with the first stupid thing he did, he did not dry off before working with electrical wiring. He is lucky he isn’t dead. Then he went and helped a mob crook. Nothing could possibly go wrong. He is also a college student that becomes a genius just in time for his school to compete for $10000. In 1969, that amount would buy many great things for a university especially one struggling financially as his was. I am sure you can imagine he’d be used for his brain to win that money.
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes was also very campy. Camp as defined by Urban Dictionary is “something considered amusing not because of its originality but because of its unoriginality. According to Susan Sontag, “The essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.” TCWTS portrays this in many ways. It is unoriginal as it takes from the same premise as being bitten by a radioactive spider turning you into a superhero with spiderlike reflexes. Spiderman was six years old at the point this was made making the idea of gaining some type of power as an already known concept except in this case he gained the power to know all things and ace his tests. Seems to pick fun at Spiderman a little. The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes also exaggerates what is not possible when being electrocuted and exaggerates what a computer can do. Especially a computer in 1969.
It was not all bad, however. I very much enjoyed the underlying message. You learn who your real friends are when you are surrounded by fakes. Everyone wanted Dexter just for his brains. His friends wanted to be around him because he was their friend. They even used all the money they had on them to bail him out of prison while everyone that was using him was only thinking of how Dexter could help them win money in one way or another. Legal and not. Dexter’s friends would run to the ends of the earth if that meant their friend was okay. I would definitely recommend this to a parent seeking to teach their child the value of a true friend.
Comment below your favorite movie that you have seen Kurt Russell star in.