If Georges de La Tour was a movie director, his films would probably look a lot like Joel Schumacher’s. Well, maybe…minus the nipples on the suits in Batman and Robin. I think my assertion, knowing Matt Milliner is lurking around here somewhere, holds up particularly well with Schumacher’s 1987 film, The Lost Boys, or as I like to put it, The Two Coreys’ (Haim and Feldman) Showcase.

My slightly sketchy comparison to a famous French Baroque painter aside, I’ve been reflecting on what I think about the movie, now, 30 years on. The surprising thing is that a couple of scenes from what was basically a teen vampire flick—albeit a slickly produced one, topped off with a killer sound track—have stubbornly stuck with me. What’s even odder is that one of those scenes, really just a moment within it, has almost nothing to do with the plot of the movie. Now hear me out: it all hinges on the saxophone guy. All of it. He’s the key to everything. Everything.

See?

A bit more seriously though, it does hinge, in part, on Law and Order‘s Dianne Wiest. “Dun, dun.” Before she was District Attorney Nora Lewin, and before that Peg Boggs, the Avon saleswoman in Edward Scissorhands, she was the mother of Corey Haim (of blessed memory) and Jason Patrick in The Lost Boys. The plot goes something like this: a recently divorced mom, Lucy, moves her two teenage sons, Sam and Michael, from Phoenix to her dad’s home in Santa Carla, California. A slightly seedy coastal town, complete with boardwalk, is populated by a mixture of hippies, punks, surfers, and what appear to be rejects from Mad Max. As the family tries to find their place in the community, things start to get weird—well, besides Grandpa’s taxidermy hobby and marijuana growing operation. I’m assuming it’s for his glaucoma. The marijuana, not the taxidermy.

Picture it: Lucy is walking the boardwalk one evening, and notices a small boy who had become separated from his mother. She walks the child to a nearby video store, thinking perhaps his mother was inside. A group of motorcycle-riding punks (okay, dirt bike-riding punks), headed up by a bleached blond Kiefer Sutherland, are walking menacingly through the store. Max, the store’s owner, played by the late Edward Herrmann (Lorelai Gilmore’s dad) was just getting ready to tell them off, when Lucy walks in with the lost boy. Switching here to Jeffrey Boam’s screenplay:

LUCY
This boy seems to be lost.

David and the Lost Boys watch Lucy and the child. Max is delighted to see Lucy in his store.

LUCY
I thought maybe his parents might be in here?

Max is just about to help Lucy when a frantic YOUNG MOTHER comes dashing into the store.

MOTHER
Terry… Oh, thank God… I was so worried…

She grabs the child, effusively thanking Max and Lucy. Max gallantly hands a lollipop to Terry as the mother thanks them some more and leaves. Max hands Lucy a lollipop next.

LUCY
No, thanks.

She smiles as the Lost Boys shuffle past, heading for the door. Max speaks to David.

MAX
I told you not to come in here anymore.

David smiles his smile and leaves with his guys. Max sees Lucy watching him.

MAX
Wild kids.

Outside David and the guys get on their bitchin’ bikes and peel out.

LUCY
Oh, they’re just young. We were that age, too, once. Only they dress better.

MAX
You’ve got a generous nature. I like that in a person. My name is Max.

LUCY
Lucy.

MAX
So what can I help you find tonight, Lucy? We’ve got it all. Best selection in Santa Carla.

LUCY
I’m not looking for a tape. What I need is—

MAX
—a job.

LUCY
Do I look that needy?

I decided to use the screenplay mainly because “bitchin’ bikes” is just too great to pass by unremarked. This line, “Oh, they’re just young. We were that age, too, once. Only they dress better”…hold your finger there for a moment.

Further down the boardwalk, Michael, Lucy’s oldest son, joins the dirt bike gang. What can I say, things move fast in Santa Carla. His initiation involved a rather memorable Chinese take-out dinner, and a swig of some dodgy Two Buck Chuck. After their repast, Jack Bauer, aka David, takes Michael out for some light parkour on a railway bridge, as you do. Whether it was the Chinese take out or the red—unusually red—wine, Michael starts having some serious side effects—like trying-to-drain-his-little-brother-of-hemoglobin-level serious. The following scene starts right after that attempt, foiled by the family dog, Nanook:

You might be asking at this juncture, what do those two scenes have to do with each other, and moreover, what’s your point? Both fair questions, and they are ones I have been asking myself. Why do these two scenes, out of an entire movie, stand out three decades later? Both are examples of unmerited, unwarranted, unwise, and completely undeserved favor; i.e., grace. The blood-fueled biker gang in Max’s video store didn’t deserve Lucy’s gracious reaction. She was not only gracious, but complimentary, and said it non in conspectu eorum to boot, meaning: she didn’t have to say it at all. In the other example, Sam shouldn’t have let Michael in through his window. What collateral did Michael—a vampire—have to offer, other than certain grievous bodily harm?

Robert Farrar Capon says this about grace, in his book, The Romance of the Word:

Grace works without requiring anything on our part. It’s not expensive. It’s not even cheap. It’s free.

Acts 15:11 (NLT):

We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

The Lost Boys of my youth and The Lost Boys of my dodderage are very similar. Both versions of me were and are attracted to mercy. The difference between then and now is that I am aware, in an ever-increasing way, just how much I need it myself. I thought I used to be Sam. Now I realize I was always Michael, or worse even—David. I was helpless. You helped me. The cosmic bottle cap has already been popped off that La Tours lit bottle of root beer grandpa just got out of the fridge. That’s the Good News, to say it Capon-style. Remember when I told you the key to everything was the saxophone guy? That actually holds true—I still believe! How can I not? Just had an idea for another piece: Part 2, The Frog Brothers of the Law. Cue Grandpa:

Bonus material:

I can’t see or hear the word “parkour” without thinking of this gem: