"It's simple. First, you go to the store and get some special pills, and then you get a girl. And then you go home and get nude. And then, you put a pill in your mouth and...you spit it down her throat while you're kissing her. And then it goes into her stomach and grows into a baby."
-Sherman, explaining how babies are made.
Don Coscarelli is best known for directing the movies Phantasm (1979) and Beastmaster (1982). Before those films, he made this coming of age film with a few of the same actors who would later appear in Phantasm. Although this film was a huge hit in Japan, it, surprisingly, was barely distributed in the US, despite being released by a major studio (20th Century Fox, in this case). Unlike many other coming of age films, this isn't innundated with hit records or pop culture references to invoke memories of a specific time period. Kenny's activities include making his own special racer, which he uses on a steep hill in his suburban neighborhood. In a way, this is like a live-action version of the comic strip Peanuts. The title character and narrator (played by Dan McCann) is a likeable boy who, like Charlie Brown, goes through the various trials and tribulations of childhood, including a crush on a girl in his class and being bullied (in Kenny's case, the bully is a jock named Johnny who's been in reform school, rather than girls like Lucy). Fred Myrow's musical score is also reminiscent of Vince Guaraldi's work for many of the Peanuts TV specials. Myrow would also do the atmospheric score for Phantasm. Unlike Peanuts, though, the adults here are seen and are articulate. One of these is Kenny's kind teacher, Mr. Donovan (Reggie Bannister), who takes part in the kids' games at recess. Another is Kenny talking to Mr. Brisk, a senior citizen the other kids basically ignore because of his age and the stories they have come up with because of that. He also has discussions with his kind parents about various topics such as the purpose of insurance and the decision to put Kenny's dog to sleep. There are also elements of the great family film A Christmas Story (1983), in that the film takes place during the four days leading up to Halloween, which, like Christmas, has always been a joyous occasion for kids. Much of the film has Kenny interacting with his mischievous pal Doug (Michael Baldwin) and their younger pal Sherman (Jeff Roth), whom Kenny & Doug sometime view as a nuisance (they even play a prank on him early in the film after he ruins a project they are working on); a view that's tempered when they are invited to his memorable birthday party (an occasion which they are able to ride an elephant) and when he shows them one of his father's issues of Playboy. This is ultimately a wonderful movie because the kids are reminiscent of ourselves growning up, with all the good and bad that came with it. Coscarelli said that he and his young actors approached this project like it was summer camp, and the results show onscreen, with the performers acting naturally throughout. Other coming of age classics such as E.T.-The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Boyz N the Hood (1991) are said to have been shot in the same manner.