If anything, at least, “Times Square” is a remarkable time capsule of the titular New York block. In 1980 before Giuliani sold the city to the highest bidder to turn it in to Disney World, Times Square was a rough area with porn theaters and dark corners every which way. Director Moyle is able to film New York brilliantly, with a lot of great wide shots and dolly shots of the corners of New York and the setting for the film. In the film we meet Pamela, the mentally ill daughter of a local politician who is hell bent on cleaning up Times Square for the mayor. When she’s locked up in the hospital for mental evaluation, she meets street girl and musician Nicky, a rebellious and raucous punk rocker who is carried away by police after trashing a vehicle.
After escaping the hospital and going on the run, the pair survives the hard streets of New York on their own terms and builds a massive cult following with their music after garnering the attention of local late night DJ Johnny LaGuardia, as played by Tim Curry. All the while, Pamela’s dad, aided by the police, is anxiously looking for her to bring her back home. “Times Square” is goofy absurd fun, at least with rousing, occasionally rocky, performances by Trini Alvarado and Robin Johnson respectively. If you can appreciate the film as something more of a rock fairytale, with an admirable love for the music, “Times Square” is a solid musical drama with a strong friendship base. Alan Moyle’s “Times Square” is almost a noteworthy testament to the punk rock lifestyle, mainly because while it does embrace its themes and music.
It’s just very dodgy and chicken hearted in other narrative themes. Allegedly the studio behind “Times Square” wanted to make their musical drama appeal to a broader audience, so they made the director tone down what was a crucial lesbian relationship between our main characters Pamela and Nicky. Had “Times Square” approached that main plot head on, I think the film overall would have gone from more of a stern drama about liberation and less a tonally confused mess. A lot of “Times Square” doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing, as it seems anxious to appeal to a teen audience, but isn’t shy about the R rating with a doling out of hard language here and there. Had the movie embraced the lesbian overtones, “Times Square” may have worked as a better movie. Not to mention a lot of moments would have made so much more sense, including Nicky’s emotional outburst when LaGuardia and Pamela begin to get cozy with one another.
If you look hard enough, though, you can still catch a lot of the lesbian subtext, from Nicky going emotional over losing Pamela, Nicky and Pamela re-uniting at her school, and of course the big concert scene in Times Square, where Pamela lovingly watches Nicky perform to a legion of female fans. “Times Square” isn’t a genre defining drama, but it’s an experience worth having, if only for the excellent peeks at 1980 New York, and the rocky but raw performances by both stars. You also have to love the incredible punk rock soundtrack from folks like the Talking Heads, Ramones, Patti Smith, XTC, The Cure, Lou Reed and Gary Numan. “Times Square” is surely not a great movie, but it’s a top tier punk rock tribute.