The underrated greatness of 'All I Wanna Do' (aka 'Strike!')
If any movie gave us permission — as people and as viewers — to change, it was Strike!. Also known as All I Wanna Do, it was a movie that liked change so much that it actually changed its name. (I think it may have just been a different title in Canada. But look: I just really want you guys to agree with my point that I will 100% elaborate on later in this post.)
Strike!, a.k.a. the title I will refer to it as, wasn’t widely seen where I lived. Why? I do not know. (We had two movie theaters, and they were usually full of movies like Terminator 6, which was probably part of the problem, but still.) When it came out on VHS, I basked in the glory of this cinematic dream team: Kirsten Dunst, Gaby Hoffmann, Abby from Dawson’s Creek, Rachel Leigh Cook, Heather Matarazzo, PETE FROM MAD MEN, Lynn Redgrave — everyone. It was like a Garry Marshall film based on feminism and politics, and it was amazing, and we need to talk about it. (I mean, technically, what we need to do is hoist it on our shoulders and make everybody watch as we carry it around, screaming its name — but you know. Semantics.)
NO MORE LITTLE WHITE GLOVES.
This movie needs to be included in our 90s nostalgia
When I first saw this movie, I can promise you feminism (as a concept) was something both foreign and frightening to me. I was 13, and it was 1998, and it was not a word we used at my elementary school. But I loved this movie in the same way I loved 10 Things I Hate About You. I loved that these women worked together to overthrow the patriarchy. I loved that it was kind of like a heist film, where everybody worked together and had a role in reclaiming their school. I loved that Lynn Redgrave championed these teens. I also loved “up your ziggy with a wah-wah brush,” even though it didn’t become quite the popular phrase I hoped it would. (Also, I had a crush on Vincent Karthesier, but we’ll talk about that some other time.)
What I’m saying here is this: is this movie a little bit misandrist? For sure. But considering we’re championing Cruel Intentions 15 years out of the gate, I’m ready to throw Strike! into the mix, too. It appealed to that part of my 13-year-old soul who wanted to rebel against all the things that were making her angry but didn’t know how to articulate it yet. It made me want to work with the women around me to change something from the inside. Did I know what that was yet? Nope. But I’d like to tip my hat to this movie for making me realize it was there.
This movie is a testament to teamwork
Does everyone get along in Strike!? Of course not. Is everybody different? 100%. But what do they do towards the end of the movie? Fight together to make sure their school doesn’t go co-ed. Granted, it doesn’t go well right away: Tweety and Tinka are all about amalgamating the boy and girl schools, but when the St. Ambrose dude humiliates Tweety, there’s a change of heart, and boom: unity. Do you know how badly I wanted this to happen at my old school? Do you know how badly I want it to happen now? Secret plans + successful outcomes = the stuff of my dreams.
Which leads me to THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I LEARNED. . .
Glenn Close sang on the soundtrack, and one of the characters might be based off of her
Is this a life lesson? Absolutely. (Lesson = Glenn Close is everywhere, and she will empower you.) So this movie is based on director Sarah Kernochan’s experiences at Rosemary Hall, a school in Connecticut. (Although FUN FACT, it was actually shot in Whitby, which is about two hours away from my house in Canada.) During the credits, there’s a song called “The Hairy Bird” that plays, and it’s performed by Kernochan and five of her school pals including GLENN CLOSE. What does this mean? Obviously that Glenn Close was one of the characters in this movie, kind of/sort of/maybe. Or, at least that’s what I’m going to pretend because it would make Strike! EVEN BETTER.
Change is important
Like I said in the intro, change is good. There’s nothing wrong with change. In fact, there’s SO few things wrong with change that Strike! goes by the aforementioned title here in Canada, All I Wanna Do in the United States, and The Hairy Bird in Australia. (Try asking somebody if they’ve seen Strike! when they’ve seen All I Wanna Do, without the Internet. It is hard, and I can promise you this.)
But look: many movies preach change, few movies do it. And considering Strike! is ABOUT change, I will stand up, take off my little white gloves, and throw them in the air in support of anything a Redgrave is in. Also; when Rachel Leigh Cook gives the above gif’d insult to her parents after she decides to stand up for her school, my heart fills with joy. (See? People change, too.)
“No More Little White Gloves” is actually a key mantra
I know we don’t wear little white gloves today, but let’s reflect on an era in which our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents did. Women were supposed to be complacent, quiet, polite, and dainty. In this movie, they are not. They demand things, and they fight for things, and because they take off their gloves — and all that doing so implies — they achieve what they want. Their school remains women-only, and we get a look into the characters’ futures that is 100% satisfying and great. Manners may make the man, but sometimes to create real change, you’ve got to lose them altogether. So let’s just say it altogether; NO MORE LITTLE WHITE GLOVES.
And also please note that this cast is the ultimate. Going forward, if we want to talk about dream nineties casts, we talk about this one first, then expand to others if there’s time. Additional theory: Gaby Hoffmann has always been unfairly cool.