The Rock Star's Homecoming

Creator: Linda Gould
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Age rating: 13 and older
Glendary College is the epitome of a small-town college. Calm and studious on the surface, the mixture of jocks, religious fanatics, and hippies is a powder keg waiting to explode. A homegrown rock band that was expelled two years before returns for an explosive homecoming.
Synopsis: At Glendary College, a small-town campus in western Maryland, a sheltered country girl enters her senior year in 1981. The college is soon to be buffeted by shifting cultural winds, much like Imogene herself. She listens with exasperation to gossip in her dormitory about the upcoming Homecoming dance and everyone’s dating prospects. The dance is traditionally the place where marriage proposals are received and futures solidified. When asked if she has a date, Imogene admits that her boyfriend, Steve, hasn't asked her yet.

Hoping tonight will be the night, Imogene sets the scene in her room with pizza and chilled beers. But Steve arrives late, ruining the romance. He cracks open a beer and tries to cajole her into a quickie before curfew. When Imogene throws an empty bottle at him, he calls her crazy and leaves with the pizza.

Imogene’s daring roommate, Sara, sneaks in after curfew. Instead of sympathizing with Imogene, she breaks out champagne sent by her rock musician brother Jake. She toasts the news that she’s been chosen to pick up her brother and his band in New York City and bring them back to campus to play at the Homecoming dance. It’ll be a cut above the usual school-approved music. Imogene, a rock fan herself, is impressed, but fears she might not get to the dance if Steve doesn't ask her.

The next morning, Imogene and Sara are awoken by the dorm housemother, who scolds them about last night’s ruckus, and warns a hung-over Sara that the kind of rock-star behavior her brother was known for won’t be tolerated. Sara’s next offense will mean expulsion. Imogene, sick of being the good girl, takes the blame.

Later, at the cafeteria, the school’s cliques are in evidence—cheerleaders flirting with football players; Jesus freaks praying; the “nondescripts” composed of dateless girls; pot-smoking burnouts. Sara flirts with star football player Jim Guthrie, enraging Jim’s cheerleader girlfriend, Christine. Imogene pulls Sara away from a confrontation.

Imogene meets with her academic adviser about her senior thesis. She is bored with his suggested topics. Afterward, she runs into Steve, who laughs at her transparent effort to reconcile. Glimpsing Sara packing up her van for the trip to New York, Imogene impulsively tells Steve she’s going along to hang out with Jake’s band, the Sunburst. Later, Imogene broaches the subject with Sara, having decided to write her senior thesis about the band. Sara agrees, if only to mock the disapproving housemother.

On the road, as the girls discuss their future goals, Imogene questions her own pedestrian plans to get married after college. She decides she might be a rock journalist. As they cruise the Manhattan streets, Imogene takes it all in. Sara drives them to the studio.

They run into Byron, a rock legend, studio founder and mentor to Jake. Imogene learns that Sara and this older, married man had a wild summer fling. The girls find Jake aloof and moody. The Sunburst is being torn apart by jealousies. Jake’s wife, Marianne, plays band members against one another while Jake struggles creatively. The rest of the band—drummer Charlie, bassist Eric, and guitarist Keith—refuse to go along with the Glendary gig, although it’s at Jake’s alma mater. Even Jake’s allusion to all the coed tail there doesn't help. Jake shrugs his apologies to Sara and Imogene.

The girls feel defeated, until the band begins to practice, and Imogene is enthralled. But as the song ends, conflict returns. Marianne flirts with Charlie, prompting Jake to flirt with Imogene. Flattered but nervous, she blurts that she wants to interview him for her thesis. Goaded by the musicians’ laughter, she tells Jake that if he wants to revive his career, he needs to reconnect with his roots. Meanwhile, Sara is trying futilely to start another fling with Byron.

The next morning, Imogene is awakened by a frantic Sara, who tells her Jake has disappeared. Marianne kicked him out in one of their epic fights. The two girls search for him in local hangouts. Imogene gets an inspiration—Jake might be visiting the spot in Central Park where Byron once held a legendary performance.

The girls find Jake in the park, playing his guitar for a group of bystanders. He’s struggling through a new song when law enforcement arrives. The cops escort them out and disperse the crowd. Jake tells Imogene she was right—the Sunburst must reconnect with its roots by doing the Glendary gig. Sara is surprised by his and Imogene’s rapport.

The van, packed with people and equipment, leaves the city and arrives at Glendary. While they’re unloading the van, Sara is gleeful to find a stash of pills in Charlie’s backpack. Imogene grabs them away and shoves them in her purse, warning of dire consequences if they get busted. Sara rolls her eyes and whisks the band off to party, leaving Imogene behind.

Imogene heads to the dorm and runs into the chatty girls holding their usual gossip session. Imogene tells them she just arrived with the Sunburst, but the girls still chide her for not having a date. Imogene sets off in search of Steve. She arrives at a dorm party, where girls swoon over the Sunburst. The musicians razz the jocks, who chafe at being ignored on their big weekend. With Steve watching, Imogene flirts with Jake. Instead of being impressed, Steve calls her a groupie.

Sara enrages Christine by flirting with Jim Guthrie. A girl-fight erupts. Imogene tries to break it up, but is caught in the middle as two Resident Officials arrive. Christine drags Jim away and Sara gathers the band to move to another location. The ROs prevent Imogene from joining the partiers.

The next morning, Jake shows up at Imogene’s door, looking for his sister. He’s curious about Imogene’s normal upbringing at a nearby farm, and talks her into taking him there. When they arrive, instead of visiting her family, Imogene comes on to Jake. Her inexperience shows, but they complete the act in a wide-open space. Afterwards, Jake says he wishes he could live outside the public eye, with no pressures. Imogene replies that he must shrug off expectations and find his own path.

Jake and Imogene arrive at the football game looking disheveled. Sara gives them both an icy reception. The chatty dorm girls ask Imogene what happened to Steve. Imogene declares she’s going to the dance solo, and all of the dateless girls should do the same. After a thrilling win for Glendary, the students leave the stadium for the dance. Sara searches for Jim, but Christine gets in her face, flashing an engagement ring. Sara tries to play it cool, but is crushed.

Outside the dance, Imogene watches couples arriving, as well as the “nondescripts” braving the dance without dates. She talks to Steve, both acknowledging it’s time to move on. Imogene drops in backstage, where the musicians are lounging. They ask for the pills, but she refuses. She reminds Jake what he said about blazing his own trail, but now he just shrugs. Defeated, she reaches into her purse to find the pills gone. Panicked, she races across campus to her dorm room. She pounds on the locked door, but when there’s no answer, she runs outside and sneaks in the way Sara habitually does. She finds Sara nearly unconscious, a trail of pills and champagne on the floor.

The housemother begins pounding on the door. Although fearful Sara will be expelled, Imogene finally opens the door. The housemother calls 911 while Imogene shakes and slaps Sara to keep her awake. Later, in a hospital room, as Sara recovers and tries to spin the situation. Imogene realizes that she, like everyone, is searching for security.

Months later, the campus is back to normal, with the usual cliques doing their thing. Imogene turns in her thesis, as a voiceover relates her conclusions: that in rock music, as in life, expectations are too limiting. It’s better to take risks and enjoy the struggle.

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