All I Wanna Do (a.k.a. Strike!, originally The Hairy Bird) is criminally underrated. This was one of my first motivations for deciding to screen this film for our August edition of The MUFF Society (a monthly feminist screening series) in Toronto. I mean, everybody needs to see this movie. If you’ve seen it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Writer/Director Sarah Kernochan’s website sums up the film in a way more eloquent than I ever could:
“The premise of the film is simple: young women do better in a supportive environment: life is rarely so simple.”
(Another favourite part that I would be remiss not to include: “All I Wanna Do had a difficult birth, overcoming the inertia of an industry which traditionally has had reservations about women running things.”)
The film takes place in the ’60s at an all-girls boarding school that is on the cusp of having to become co-ed due to budget cuts, and hilarity ensues as the girls fight back against the change. I feel like this is one of those movies that should be mandatory for young girls to watch, if not for the empowering message or amazing hair styles, then at least for the most amazing insult ever created in the history of film: “Up your ziggy with a wa-wa brush.”
No, I won’t give you any context. You’ll have to watch the movie for that. But since we’re already here, read on for five reasons why I think this movie is tops, and totally worthy of being #MUFFApproved.
1. Writer/director Sarah Kernochan
Sarah Kernochan loosely based All I Wanna Do on her time spent at an all girl’s school in Connecticut. (With Glenn Close, apparently. I just had to toss that in there.) I’ve always been fascinated by boarding schools, particular all-girls ones, as I can only imagine the sorts of experiences and stories that might result. And the world that Kernochan creates only fuels that interest for me. And also kind of makes me wish I’d grown up in the ’60s with an affluent family that would take me, and my horse, to a fancy all-girls school.
Kernochan is an accomplished screenwriter whose other writing credits include 9 1/2 Weeks, What Lies Beneath, and most recently, Learning to Drive. Talk about wide range of writing abilities.
2. The cast
Gaby Hoffmann. Kirsten Dunst. Rachael Leigh Cook. Heather Matarazzo. Merritt Wever. Monica Keena. HOW CAN ONE MOVIE HAVE SO MANY AMAZING LADIES IN IT?!?! Also, is it possible to convince them all to star in another movie together? I think if we all wrote a really nice letter, maybe they’d consider.
Also it must be mentioned that the incredible Lynn Redgrave plays the school’s headmistress and if you can make it to the end of this film and not consider her character your new idol well, sirs/madams, you must be dead inside.
The original title of this film was The Hairy Bird, but Miramax thought that title was too offensive. Maybe you’re all, “What’s a hairy bird? Is it a bird with hair?” Yes. Uh. Something like that. As the picture above illustrates, it is definitely a bird. Not a penis.
A lot of this film has to do with sex because, hey, guess what, young girls think about sex. Even ones at affluent boarding schools. What we need to appreciate most about All I Wanna Do/The Hairy Bird is that these girls are thinking about sex, sure, but they’re also smart, accomplished, thoughtful, and really good at scheming. And, while the title of the film was changed, the end credits contained this hilarious little song:
And read the first comment from director Sarah Kernochan: “Thanks to everyone who enjoyed this song, which was a million laughs to write and record. In the U.S. the ratings board made me cut sexually suggestive shots and lines here and there, but they totally missed the end-credits song! Wahahahaha.” God bless America.
4. The Secret Club
Listen up: any movie with a secret club is a winner in my books. This is probably because I always wanted a secret club of my own as a kid but never had one. And this secret club is extra amazing because it involves a rad location, the best name ever (D.A.R., daughters of the American ravioli, which will make sense in 3…2…1), and all of the canned ravioli you could ever want to eat.
Snacks and a place to share your deepest secrets with your girlfriends? Count me in.
5. The Message
Ultimately, All I Wanna Do is about feeling empowered. I’ll even go as far to say that it’s a feminist film, and NOT because it’s a bunch of girls rallying against their school becoming co-ed, but rather because these girls are all different but accept each other and support each other. Well, in the end they do, because what’s a coming-of-age movie without a little bit of conflict and growth, right? And in the end the most important thing is that they all work together and demand their voices be heard.
A mantra of the film is “No more little white gloves!” which, along with “Up your ziggy with a wa-wa brush,” we should all be adopting as our own mantra. It’s funny in an “actually, it’s terrible” kind of way that the film’s premise was based in the ’60s, it came out in the ’90s, and here were are today and it’s just as relevant.
If that’s got you clenching your fists like it ought to, have some ravioli and make sure to join us on Wednesday, August 12th for our screening of All I Wanna Do.
The MUFF Society’s screening of ALL I WANNA DO starts at 7 p.m., starting with a sweet raffle prize, then the Mini MUFF screening of FIRECRACKERS, directed by Jasmin Mozaffari. MUFF be in the lobby with their awesome photo booth starting at 6:30!
For a chance to win two tickets to the screening, head over to Cinefilles’ twitter account (@cinefilles) and RT the pinned tweet about MUFF. Contest runs until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, August 11.