Video Review: John Cougar Mellencamp "Jack & Diane"

Picture frames with gray borders appear on screen. One as Jack, as a baby. Two frames of hands clapping dart from left to right. Jack, at about two years old, wears overalls. Baby Jack frowns while sitting on the hood of his dad’s car.

Next, baby Diane grins, a bow on top of her head. At about seven, she turns her eye away from the camera in one photo while smiling in another.

In a color photo, Jack leans against a picket fence, about 10 years old. A black-and-white photo of him with his brother standing by their dad’s car. At about 10 years old, Diane squints at the camera and then is caught running.

In color, Jack and Diane walk down the street, as teenagers. John Cougar Mellencamp appears overhead, singing. In a black-and-white, Jack poses in his football gear. Diane grins, wearing a dress, with her sister. The pictures dissolve.

It fades into Jack buying Diane a hot dog from a vendor. It dissolves, showing Mellencamp overhead and then Diane sitting on Jack’s lap, eating. Jack and Diane take a walk in the forest and then sit by their favorite tree.

Mellencamp remains overhead as the hands clap in another frame.

Still photos show a somber Diane looking down and a disappointed Jack staring off into the field while several hand clap frames appear near it. Jack and Diane cuddle by the door of their new home, a block away from their parents’. Jack and Diane walk down the street, arms around one another.

Still photos show Jack growing out his hair. Diane has gotten older but has a baby face. Jack holds a cigarette to his lips. He rides his bicycle as Mellencamp overhead, ruffles his hair. Diane laughs in the car. She hops on his back for a piggyback ride through the forest. Jack smacks her butt and lifts her by the car, kissing her. Diane and Jack take a break from riding. Jack smokes a cigarette.

In two photos, Mellencamp punches the screen while middle aged photos of Jack and Diane appear below.

Mellencamp snaps his finger in the top left frame while Jack and Diane hang out on a mountain top and walk down the street on the top right.  Jack and Diane begin to ride in the middle frame as Mellencamp sings in the top ones.

Diane hugs Jack from behind in a still photo.

Rating: 2/5

Jack and Diane, as children, had a lot of hopes. Jack was going to be in National Football League (NFL), playing for the Houston Oilers. Diane would travel from town to town with him, supporting him. Football would be their ticket out of town.

By eighteen, though, Jack injured his knee during a game, dashing his dreams. Diane stayed with him, getting a job at a local diner. Jack bought his himself a motorcycle and then a vintage car, like his dad had. Diane didn’t mind. Not one for fashion or pop culture, she preferred the discount stores and the outdoors.

Overall, they had good lives. Diane was pleased with what she had. But reality hit hardest for Jack, who thought he could offer Diane a new life in the city someday. They wouldn’t have to struggle and Diane could work as an illustrator at an advertising agency.

Watching Jack and Diane grow up, first as smiling children and then becoming hardened adults, discouraged by their circumstances is stifled by design of the overlapping frames. The hand clapping can be seen from the corner of the eye, taking away from Jack and Diane. Sometimes, the borders cut off some of the action going in Jack and Diane’s frames, chopping off their heads.

Director: N/A Year: 1982

 

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