Foster City: "Over the Edge"?

Columnist Damian Morris checks out a movie reportedly based on youth crime in Foster City, and gives us his scathing review.

I received a comment on my last column about my interest in investigating Foster City's past, with a mention of the movie Over The Edge.  The movie was allegedly based on events that took place in Foster City in the 1970s.  Like any writer worth his salt, I did some research; not a great deal mind you, but certainly more than I ever did for the history class I took in college.  It took about an hour's work on the Internet.  I surely could have used the Web back in those days.

I came across some common themes about the movie, such as it was based on a San Francisco Examiner article, "Mouse Packs: Kids on a Crime Spree."  It was also mentioned that it was Kurt Cobain's favorite film.  He apparently had better taste in music that he did in movies.  Unfortunately, I could not find a copy of the Examiner article.  But there was also a lot of conflicting information out there, such as who wrote the Examiner piece and what year it came out. (Side note: I remember when the Examiner was a real newspaper.  I used to read it on my commute from SF to Foster City on the Samtrans 47X Express bus, which sadly no longer exists.)

I also stumbled upon several websites where people could put there own recollections about our early era.  Most of it was chat about the good old days, but the majority seemed to rebut the notion that there was ever more than mere mischievous pranks happening here.  I could be wrong, but that's a rarity.  I'm sure we had our fair share of wayward youth like any town, but not to the extent that was depicted in the film.

So I decided to rent Over The Edge and see what it was all about.  I'm not a movie reviewer, but should that position open up on Foster City Patch, I may be up for some overtime.  In a nutshell, the movie was virtually unwatchable.  It may be the fact that its over 30 years old, but it does not hold up.  I admit that I did not watch the entire thing, but certainly enough to catch the gist. It was sensationalistic and over dramatized, with neglectful or pampering parents, stereotypical directionless teens and cookie cutter cops. Basically, it stunk.

One of the main themes was teenage boredom in a suburban planned community.  There was plenty of boredom in my unplanned community when I was growing up, and I never resorted to trashing cars or some of the other stuff we see in the film.  And I didn't have access to a lovely Quonset hut rec center that the kids in the movie did. Another notable item about the film is that it was Matt Dillon's first role.  Decades before The Situation and the other slobs of Jersey Shore, Dillon was displaying his ab muscles in a half t-shirt.  He eventually got shot, so I didn't have to look at them anymore.

In all seriousness, teen crime and troubled youth can be a problem in any community, whether planned or not, rural, suburban or urban.  This movie didn't give a very convincing portrait of it, but it is a very real concern.  You'll often hear the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" at our Foster City Mothers' Club gatherings, and I'm a firm believer in that.  A combination of parents, friends, teachers, coaches, Scout leaders and many others are the key ingredients that have had a positive influence on my kids and those of my friends.

For example, my daughter's high school volleyball team took on San Mateo High Friday night.  I was not there as I was a bit under the weather, but my wife said it was like old home week.  Many of the players on San Mateo were the same girls that my daughter played with on the Bowditch volleyball team years back, as well as Foster City AYSO.  I remember fondly the hoopla surrounding soccer season opening at Sea Cloud Park.  I was a spectator for most sports, excluding my illustrious stint as an assistant Little League baseball coach one year, but many of our friends were coaches, refs and administrators of the various sports leagues.  Sports is but one aspect of what holds a community together and provides our kids the direction they need.  Boy Scouts is another.  I watched with pride as my son ascended the ranks in Foster City's Troop 175, eventually becoming an Eagle Scout, as did many of his compatriots. Troop 175 is a high adventure troop so he got to go on many exciting trips, such as snow camping, canoeing down the Missouri River, and 50 mile hikes. 

Well, that's all folks.  We'll see you in a couple weeks.

Phyllis McArthur February 13, 2011 at 02:47 AM
If you google "Foster City in the Movies" you will see my blog, no longer with that company so I have no name in the blog
Joseph T. Cutietta September 25, 2012 at 01:26 AM
I also grew up in Foster City, and graduated from Bowditch in 1970, the first year it opened. Although; "Over The Edge," is over the top, it is a pretty accurate view of life in FC in the early '70's. I hung out with a group of guys who called themselves; "The Bros." Which called Marlin Park our home, and hung out under the tree ( which is no longer there) on the small hill by the restrooms. We hung out at The Rec which was held at the Bowditch Gym on Saturday Nights. We drank booze and smoked pot outside on the playground during the time the rec was opened. Some of my friends would sneak out at night to break car antennas, and do minor damage, but never any graffiti. I never joined in any of these activities, but heard the stories. We would go into under construction homes like in the movie, but never did any damage to them. In general I think the movie represents what it was like to grow up in FC in those days, but it was ramped up to sell tickets.
Phyllis McArthur September 25, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Joseph, I have been rather obsessed with this story, what are your thought about the Examiner's story?
Joseph T. Cutietta September 25, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Phyllis: I have not read the article, even though I worked for both the San Francisco Chronicle and The Examiner from 1979 until May of 2011 as a District Manager. I would like to obtain a copy from The Ex, and will try to call them Tuesday. I do know a lot of hooliganism went down around that time. I got a job at the old QFI Market in San Mateo in 1973, so I did not participate in any shenanigans, once I started working at age 16. I still lived in FC and had my old friends, but the kids interviewed for the movie were a couple of years after my crew had out grown that phase in our development. But I do know it was boring growing up then, and having only Port of Call Shopping Center to hang out at! I only wish I would have been interviewed for the film!
Lauren Balk June 02, 2014 at 10:58 AM
See that thing flying WAY over your head? That's the point, which you missed so spectacularly I am breathless with awe. Of course, since you didn't even watch the whole film and decided to write an opinion anyway, I hope most of your readers, as I did, wrote this off as a half-educated halfwit piece of drivel. But then again, it makes you more like Mr. Cole, Doberman, and the adults of New Granada, so congrats on that, I suppose.


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