What is it about a certain group that makes us call them “cool”? In both life and DCOMs, coolness seems kind of arbitrary. Unfortunately, “the cool kids” are often the ones that make fun of their peers and tear people down. That’s exactly what we see in a classic DCOM, Alley Cats Strike. Despite the coolness complex, I do enjoy this movie, and it’s one of the earliest DCOM memories I have.
Directed by Rod Daniel and written by Gregory Pincus, Alley Cats Strike is a bowling DCOM starring pre-Cheetah Girls Kyle Schmid and Cousin Skeeter’s Robert Ri’chard. Schmid plays “retro kid” Alex Thompson, whose friend group is made up of fellow bowlers Elisa (Kaley Cuoco), Delia (Mimi Paley), and Ken (Joey Wilcots). Ri’chard plays popular jock Todd McLemore, whose posse includes Laura Vandervoort as Lauren. Todd’s whole life is sports, and he’s encouraged by his mayor father (Tim Reid, who is married in real life to his movie wife, Daphne Maxwell-Reid). As explained in the beginning of the movie, Todd and his West Appleton High basketball buddies are out to win the Mighty Apple trophy. They have to beat East Appleton in a big game in order to take home the prize, but the basketball game ends in a tie. So, no trophy yet.
I’m not sure how junior high sports work, but it seems kind of strange that the tie-breaking procedure doesn’t even involve basketball… Instead of a rematch, the schools have to compete against each other in bowling, with the trophy finally going to the bowling champions. It turns out that Todd’s friends signed him up for the bowling club as a joke, so he has to join Alex, Elisa, Delia, and Ken in the fight for victory. The group is none too thrilled about having to spend extended amounts of time with Todd the “golden boy.” Alex starts to think he has a spot in the popular crowd, partying with Todd and his friends, appearing on the radio with Todd, and even ditching Ken, Delia, and Elisa. But in a very sad scene, Todd’s friends and girlfriend start saying mean things about Alex, wishing they didn’t have to hang out with him. Standing just around the corner, Alex hears every word.
This is a pretty small town, and it turns out that Todd and Alex’s dads once had a falling-out over sports. Two things ultimately bring things to a boil for Alex: not only is the Apple trophy at stake; a new school is being built, and the winning town will get to choose the name. Additionally, the team is given crappy t-shirts to compete in. Alex becomes so frustrated that he temporarily quits on his team. Eventually, he and Todd are able to patch things up, and with Delia’s genius slow-bowling technique, they win the game. The new school will be called “Appleton Central,” at the team’s request. Another bonus is that business at the bowling alley is booming just weeks after Alex’s dad was in danger of having to close the place down. It’s nice to see that the popular music of the day finally coexists with the Rat Pack style that Alex and his friends love. There’s nothing like a good DCOM party, whether you’re in the movie or watching at home!