Class / Secret Admirer Lewis John Carlino / David Greenwalt

Here’s the auteur theory in action. These two teen movies were written by Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt but with different directors, they hardly seem like the work of the same people. Where Class fills in its blanks with decent, if unspectacular, direction, Secret Admirer fails because there’s nothing visually backing up its solid premise. Class is the story of Jonathan (Andrew McCarthy), a poor student at a rich prep school; he makes friends with roommate Skip (Rob Lowe), who tries to impart to the snob novice the ways of women. The lesson takes a little too well; Jonathan falls in love with sophisticated older woman Ellen (Jacqueline Bisset), which would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that she’s actually Skip’s mother. Not a genius premise but director Lewis John Carlino has enough faith in the characters and just enough skill to make the whole thing seem credible. You at least accept it as something to care about, even if you’re not bowled over. Alas, two years later Greenwalt directed the duo’s Secret Admirer, which despite a clever idea seems flat. It should have been funny to see a series of love letters (the first to C. Thomas Howell from shy honour student Lori Loghlin) turn into a string of misunderstandings that spin out of control and lead various sets of parents to the brink of infidelity. But the script is let down by the flat direction, which doesn’t beef up the story with the vivid detail needed to make it seem more than an outline. And as Greenwalt doesn’t understand comic timing (at least, then), the movie just comes off as slightly lame. It’s not a horror but not something you’d sit through twice. (MGM)