The Delinquents (1989) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

From about 1987 to 1992, a young Australian named Kylie Minogue was about the hottest figure on the pop charts of several countries. She had her greatest successes in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the UK, but she also had some hits in North America and Europe. For an incredibly detailed account of her successes, you can go to her IMDb  bio and look under the rubric of "trivia."

The Delinquents was a movie specifically tailored for her, to showcase her looks and abilities and to initiate her movie career. (Unlike most pop singers in similar situations, Kylie was not a stranger to acting, having starred in Australian soap operas before she made it big as a singer.) I started to write that it is a coming-of-age story about Australian teens in the 50s, but that isn't quite right. It isn't really a personal story from a single P.O.V, as one would expect in a coming-of-age tale, but rather a manufactured soap opera of a love story which happens to focus on two very young teens. They are two good kids from troubled working-class homes who find each other, take refuge in each other, and form a lifelong bond. They just want to be left alone to start their life together, and they're willing to do whatever is necessary to pay the bills. Unfortunately, their families and the legal authorities don't see their situation in quite the same light, since the kids are only 15 years old and the girl soon gets pregnant. Society conspires constantly to punish them for simply wanting to be together. Their struggle is filled with heartbreak, and their road to adulthood is blocked by many detours. There are, as you might expect, many references to Romeo and Juliet in the script, but this version of the classic tale does eventually progress to a feel-good multi-hankie ending.

The film was targeted directly at Kylie's audience(s): the young teens and tweens who bought her music, and the women of all ages who followed her soap opera career. The Delinquents is firmly into chick-flick territory with a 1.8 point male/female differential at IMDb (6.6 from females, 4.8 from males), and within the female group, the enthusiasm declines as the voters get older.

All of that is not to say that it is a bad film. In fact, it has some very strong positives. Here are four:

1. The photography is gorgeous. The cinematographer was Andrew Lesnie, who is absolutely one of the best on the planet. He's been the cinematographer for a few little films you may have heard of, like King Kong and the three Lord of the Rings films! He has won every award that a cinematographer can win, including an Oscar.

2. The soundtrack is great if you like vintage 1950s do-wop rock (I do!). There are several recordings by the original artists and even a Kylie Minogue cover of Tears on my Pillow. In addition to the familiar rock 'n roll standards, there is a lush and romantic original orchestral score by Miles Goodman.

3. The period details are fun to absorb. In many ways, small-town Australia in the 1950s was like the equivalent life in the USA. In other ways, it was very different. I was fascinated by the sight of dozens of hard-nosed blue collar guys riding their bikes to work en masse. In another scene, I thought I had pegged the familiar sight of streetcar tracks running through the town - until a full-fledged steam locomotive came barreling through downtown pulling a full load of freight through the High Street. I have never seen anything like that in North America - or anywhere else, for that matter. It is only through films like this that an American may share such unique memories of a forgotten time in a foreign place.

4. Kylie herself did a surprisingly good job in the role, looked great, and even did a brief topless scene.

The Delinquents DVD Kylie Minogue Widescreen (1989)

DVD INFO (click on image to left)

  • The DVD is Region 4 PAL, but is available through an American importer. It includes a very nice widescreen anamorphic  transfer of the film and a couple of "making of" featurettes which feature the actors, the director, and the composer.



Kylie Minogue: breasts

Charlie Schlatter: buns

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 5.1/10. That seems about a point lower than I would have guessed. (Women rate it 6.6.)
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C+. Yes, I know it's a soap opera about young kids in love, and the intended audience is 14 year old girls, so most of you reading this will not find it to be your kind of movie, but it does everything well, and backs it up with great period music and beautiful photography.

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