You know you have a mediocre Schoolbreak Special if you can figure out the Big Educational Theme in the first five minutes. That’s the way it is in the hokey, obvious American Eyes. Its theme is Teenage Prejudice — in this case, how a young Korean faces up to his adoption by an American family.
As Herb Stein has directed this drama, we’re supposed to believe that John (Jason Scott Lee), though adopted as an infant, is only now, at 16, experiencing prejudice. Given that most of the teens on his street, in school, and on his basketball team insult or snub him, this seems ludicrous. There’s no way this bunch of yahoos would have restrained their crudity until now.
But then John’s adoptive parents (David Ogden Stiers and Concetta Tomei) send him to a Korean ”heritage camp,” where John learns to feel proud of his Korean heritage — and meets a beautiful Korean girl. By reducing prejudice to a matter of its victim’s pride and hormones, American Eyes turns its subject into an all-too-easily-solved problem. C-