Billie Jean Davy (Helen Slater), a Corpus Christi, Texas high school girl, rides with her younger brother, Binx (Christian Slater) on his Honda Elite to a local lake to go swimming. At a drive-in, Hubie Pyatt (Barry Tubb), a rowdy local teen, and his friends hit on Billie Jean, but Binx humiliates him by throwing a milkshake in his face. Later on at the lake as Billie Jean tells Binx about the weather in Vermont, a place he has always wanted to visit, Hubie takes his revenge, stealing Binx's scooter.
As Binx goes off on his own to retrieve his scooter later that night, Billie Jean goes to the police with her friends Putter (Yeardley Smith) and Ophelia (Martha Gehman). Detective Ringwald (Peter Coyote) is sympathetic, but urges them to wait the problem out. When Billie Jean returns home, she finds Binx beaten, with his scooter severely damaged. The next day, Billie Jean, Binx, and Ophelia go to Mr. Pyatt's shop to get the money ($608.00) to repair the scooter. While initially appearing helpful and understanding, Mr. Pyatt then propositions Billie Jean with a 'Pay as you go, earn as you learn' plan by which he will have sex with her. He then attempts to rape her.
Meanwhile, Binx has discovered a gun in the empty store and when Billie Jean emerges from the back of the store, clearly distressed, he turns it on Mr. Pyatt. Mr. Pyatt tells him the gun is unloaded, but Binx accidentally fires it, wounding Mr Pyatt in the shoulder. The group races away from the shop and become fugitives.
By the time Detective Ringwald realizes that he made a mistake in not listening to Billie Jean, the situation is spinning out of control. Throughout it all, Billie Jean wants only the $608 to fix her brother's scooter and an apology from Mr. Pyatt. With help from Lloyd Muldaur (Keith Gordon), the disgruntled teenage son of the district attorney, who voluntarily becomes her "hostage", Billie Jean makes a video of her demands, featuring herself with her long, blond hair chopped into a crew cut as a sign of her rebellion. As media coverage increases, Billie Jean becomes a teen icon – a symbol of youth empowerment and the evidence of the injustices adults are capable of, and young fans follow her every movement. Facing uncertain dangers, both physical and legal, Billie Jean is forced to turn her friends Putter and Ophelia in to the police for their safety. When Ringwald and the police arrive and he demands to know where Billie Jean is, Ophelia proudly and defiantly replies, "Everywhere!"
Mr. Pyatt issues a bounty for her apprehension, and Billie Jean realizes the best plan is to put an end to the extraordinary circumstances and to turn herself in. To avoid attracting too much attention, she and her brother Binx both arrive in disguise. But the disguise is blown, and the consequences descend into a violent riot, which results in Binx getting shot. As Binx is taken away in an ambulance, Billie Jean confronts Mr. Pyatt and gets him to admit his actions that led to him being shot in his store. The onlookers (including Hubie), seeing how Billie Jean was exploited and their indirect involvement in it, destroy all the Billie Jean merchandise and leave in disgust. At the end of the film Billie Jean and Binx find themselves far up in Vermont seeking some recuperation and a fresh start. Binx, after complaining about the cold, admires a red snowmobile.Helen Slater as Billie Jean Davy
Keith Gordon as Lloyd Muldaur
Christian Slater as Binx Davy
Richard Bradford as Mr. Pyatt
Peter Coyote as Lieutenant Larry Ringwald
Martha Gehman as Ophelia
Yeardley Smith as Putter
Dean Stockwell as District Attorney Muldaur
Barry Tubb as Hubie Pyatt
Mona Lee Fultz as Donna Davy
Ola Anderssen as boy on the beach
Filming locations included the Sunrise Mall and several locations along South Padre Island Drive.
The original title of the film was Fair is Fair.
Craig Safan produced the original score for the film writing a couple of synthpop-styled instrumental tracks. Furthermore, some rock songs were added to the soundtrack which had never been officially released. The movie's theme song "Invincible" by Pat Benatar peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1985, while Billy Idol's reissue of his single "Rebel Yell" climbed up to number six on the UK Singles Chart in October 1985 after its first unsuccessful release in 1984."Invincible" (Theme from "The Legend of Billie Jean") – Pat Benatar
"Closing In" – Mark Safan
"Boys in Town" – Divinyls
"Heart Telegraph" – Divinyls
"Rebel Yell" – Billy Idol
"It’s My Life" – Wendy O. Williams
"Time to Explain" – Bruce Witkin & The Kids
"Self Defense" – Chas Sanford
Jay Boyar of the Orlando Sentinel stated that the film "has quite a lot going for it" and "doesn't get many points for finesse, but it has energy, good performances and more wit than you'd expect." He added, "One reason that sections of the movie are effective is that Helen Slater has enough style and presence to be believable as a young woman who is taken for a modern Joan of Arc. As Billie Jean, she's got the clear eyes of a dreamer and the toughness of a winner." Janet Maslin of The New York Times said that the film is "competently made, sometimes attractively acted (particularly by Peter Coyote)... and bankrupt beyond belief. It's hard to imagine that even the film makers, let alone audiences, can believe in a sweet, selfless heroine who just can't help becoming a superstar." The film holds a 44% approval rating on the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 9 reviews, though it currently lacks of consensus summary.
The film was released on home video on VHS in 1985.
In 2009, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released in Europe a Spanish-titled DVD La Leyenda de Billie Jean, with 4:3 open matte image, but without any bonus material. A remastered NTSC DVD including commentary by Helen Slater and Yeardley Smith was released on November 1, 2011, via their manufactured on demand service.
Mill Creek Entertainment released a retail version of the DVD, along with a Blu-ray edition on July 22, 2014.