Rude Awakening (1989)  – AVAILABLE ONLY ON VHS and YOUTUBE


By Melissa Antoinette Garza


I own RUDE AWAKENING (1989) on VHS and it doesn’t appear that it was ever released on DVD.  Someone put the entire film on YOUTUBE and other than the first 3 minutes that has no sound, it’s probably as good a copy as you’ll find.

First and foremost, I love Eric Roberts.  I always have.  I grew up watching RUDE AWAKENING, NOBODY’S FOOL (1986), BEST of the BEST (1989), NATURE OF THE BEAST (1995), etc.  In the 80s and 90s, HBO was a haven for great hidden gems; and Roberts was in about 75% of them.

RUDE AWAKENING makes me nostalgic for both the hippie culture and the yuppie 80s.  It’s funny how incompatible those character types were in the 80s and how they were continuously played against each other.  BIRD ON A WIRE (1990) and FLASHBACK (1990) are two other movies that explore this topic and idealize the 60s anti-war movement.  As a child of the 80s-90s, I was drawn in completely.

RUDE AWAKENING is about 4 people who were best friends in the 60s.  Wanted by the police for draft evasion, Fred (Eric Roberts) and Jesus (Cheech Marin) run off and start a commune.  They leave behind Fred’s girlfriend Petra (Julie Hagerty) and their best friend Sammy (Robert Carradine), who want to continue the fight.

Fast forward to 1989, when Fred finds papers showing the intent to orchestrate a new war.  Fred and Jesus return to the states to catch up with Petra.  They’re shocked to see their friend who was a trippy artist to an advertising executive bitch.  Worse is Sammy who seems to have completely sold out.

At first, Petra and Sammy resent their return, but the love the four felt for one another overpowers their reservations.  They decide to work with Fred and Jesus to inform the world about all the ills going on.

I love this movie.  It reminds me of my childhood.  It always killed my soul to think about a hippie activist devolve into a money-hungry yuppie.  The 60s, as I knew, were a time of rebellion, revolution, and reaction.  The idealism of that era was sincere and the energy was beautiful.

When I watch this flick, I want to go save the world!  Sadly, there’s a danger to that mindset.  As a child, I loved The Weather Underground and thought that every rally and riot was justified.  And honestly, during that time, when the Pentagon Papers was released and Watergate was going on, and on the tail end of the Vietnam War, I completely understand the desire to get out and march for freedom.


RUDE AWAKENING makes me miss what the liberals once stood for, but instead of celebrating the changes made, everyone just started making up more -isms and phobias.  Then the left began feigning outrage over innocuous words they found offensive just so they could protest and achieve a celebratory feeling of protesting and making a difference (even though the difference they’re making is in complete contradiction with what the protesters they wish to mimic had done).  I think my anger with the left is that they forced me to leave the party because their demands became fascist and crazy.  Trying to ban Ben Shapiro from talking at a universities and physically assaulting people left and right, is not a liberal move.

So, despite being called a liberal my entire life and not changing any of my political positions drastically, I still somehow am considered a conservative now.

I still consider myself a GIVE PEACE A CHANCE style hippie.  I still believe in fighting the oppressors and ensuring equal rights to every American Citizen – only sometime when I wasn’t looking, everything went topsy-turvy and those protesting became the oppressors.

There are plenty things in the world to fight for that we could be on the same side.  We could fight against female circumcision and march to make sure all voices are heard, even those who dissent from our opinions.  I wish that was still the left.  I miss the NYC streets and going to DC right after 9/11 to protest the war in Iraq.

RUDE AWAKENING sparks a fun outrage in me.  I won’t let the New Age Lefties culturally appropriate the 1960s.  There was a real fight that took place and a lot of good people were assassinated as a result of their justified voiced outrage.  Today’s protests and marches lack passion, wisdom and understanding.  They’re angry and violent and antagonistic.  They’ve devolved into the villains and into the oppressors.

I highly recommend you seeking this film out.  It’s everything one could ask for.  The characters are amusing.  The heart of the actors is shown in each scene and with every word of dialogue.  It’s a fun and idealistic film that shows true rebels never die.  They may go into hiding, but when the time comes – real rebels, the true counter-culture will take a stand.

rude awakening

Scared Stiff Rating:  8/10