Taglines: It’s about real life.
Listen to Me centers around a group of college students who are members of the debate team at fictional Kenmont College. The two main characters, Tucker Muldowney (Kirk Cameron) and Monica Tomanski (Jami Gertz), come from underprivileged backgrounds, having won scholarships to Kenmont for displaying exceptional talent for debating.
Both students are taken under the wing of the debate team coach, Charlie Nichols (Roy Scheider), who was a star debater in his youth. The team eventually wins a chance to debate the issue of abortion in front of the Supreme Court. Along the way, the students learn lessons about life, love, friendship, and politics.
Listen to Me is a 1989 American drama film written and directed by Douglas Day Stewart. Released on May 5, 1989, it stars Kirk Cameron, Jami Gertz, and Roy Scheider. The film was largely shot on location in Malibu, California, including the campus of Pepperdine University.
Film Review for Listen to Me
“Listen to Me” reaches toward the moment when a college student goes over the edge to win a big debating championship. She reveals her deepest, most guessable secret before five Supreme Court justices and a national television audience, which we are meant to believe is glued to the tube for this event.
The story follows three college debaters – the ambitious son of a chicken farmer (Kirk Cameron), the repressed daughter of a bar owner (Jami Gertz), and a wealthy Senator’s son called Gar (Tim Quill). They go to a school that is supposedly in California but seems to be on another planet. It is a place where the debating coach (Roy Scheider) is the campus hero, and debate rouses all the emotions and loyalty that football or basketball do at colleges here on Earth.
Mr. Cameron fades in and out of an Oklahoma accent. Ms. Gertz becomes his friend but refuses to tell him why she won’t date him (it never crosses anyone’s mind that she might not be attracted to him). Mr. Quill looks something like a Kennedy and is forever saying he does not want to go into politics. He’d rather drop debate and concentrate on playwriting.
“How do you just walk away from debate?” asks Mr. Scheider, as horrified as if Gar had suggested jumping out a window. “‘Cause I don’t love it like you, Charlie,” Gar answers. Show me a college kid who talks this way and I’ll show you someone who has watched way too many bad movies.
The film was written and directed by Douglas Day Stewart, who wrote the script for “An Officer and a Gentleman.” Mr. Stewart spins his camera around in circles so often the audience is in danger of getting seasick. But triteness is not the worst thing about this manipulative little melodrama. “Listen to Me,” which opens today at the Beekman and other theaters, is sleazy enough to pretend it is about abortion. The debate topic for the season is whether Roe v. Wade should be overturned.
Characters toss off opinions on both sides of the issue with all the depth and conviction of stand-up comics, so the film can’t be held acountable for any opinions beyond “life is precious.” “Listen to Me” manages to trivialize even that uncontroversial statement.
Listen to Me (1989)
Directed by: Douglas Day Stewart
Starring: Kirk Cameron, Jami Gertz, Roy Scheider, Amanda Peterson, Tim Quill, George Wyner, Anthony Zerbe, Quinn Cummings, Christopher Atkins, Peter DeLuise
Screenplay by: Douglas Day Stewart
Production Design by: Gregory Pickrell
Cinematography by: Fred J. Koenekamp
Film Editing by: Anne V. Coates, Bud S. Smith
Costume Design by: Durinda Wood
Set Decoration by: Peg Cummings
Music by: David Foster
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date:May 5, 1989