In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_southside_with_you

Southside With You

Southside with You builds its emotional richness by coasting on the charisma of its two leads as they carefully navigate each other’s personality quirks and…

Thumb_dont_breathe

Don't Breathe

Don’t Breathe gets a little less interesting as it proceeds to its inevitable conclusion, but it works so well up to that point that your…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

All the Right Moves

  |  

I started on newspapers as a sportswriter, covering local high-school teams. That was a long time ago, and I had almost forgotten, until I saw "All the Right Moves," how desperately important every game seemed at the time. When the team members and the fans are all teenagers, and when a school victory reflects in a significant way upon your own feelings of worth, when "We won!" means that we won, a football game can take on aspects of Greek tragedy.



"All the Right Moves" remembers the strength of those feelings, but does not sentimentalize them. The movie stars Tom Cruise (from the current hit "Risky Business") as a high-school football player in a small Pennsylvania mill town where unemployment is a way of life. His ticket out of town is a football scholarship to a good engineering school.

The high-school football coach (Craig T. Nelson) also is looking for a ticket, to an assistant-coaching job in a college. On the night of the big game, these two people get into a position where each one seems to have destroyed the hopes of the other.

The movie plays this conflict against an interesting background. This isn't another high-school movie with pompom girls and funny principals and weirdo chem teachers. The movie gets into the dynamics of the high-school student body and into the tender, complicated relationship between the Cruise character and his girlfriend (Lea Thompson). After all the junk high-school movies in which kids chop each other up, seduce the French teacher and visit whorehouses in Mexico, it is so wonderful to see a movie again that remembers that most teenagers are vulnerable, unsure, sincere and fundamentally decent. The kid, his girlfriend and all of their friends have feelings we can recognize as real.

The plot feels real, too, because it centers around those kinds of horrible misunderstandings. and mistakes that we all remember from high school. A lot of teenagers walk around all day feeling guilty, even if they're totally innocent. Get them into a situation that gives them the appearance of guilt and they're in trouble.

And it is so easy to get into trouble when you are old enough to do wrong but too young to move independently to avoid it. A lot of kids who say they were only along for the ride are telling the simple truth. The movie frames the Cruise character in a situation like that, one we can identify with. And then it does an interesting thing. Instead of solving the problem with a plot twist, it solves it through the exercise of genuine human honesty: Two people finally tell each other the truth. This is, of course, an astonishing breakthrough in movies about teenagers, and "All the Right Moves" deserves it.



Popular Blog Posts

Hollywood Gave Up on You: The Summer Movies of 2016

A look back at how this summer's best offering, Netflix's "Stranger Things," makes the failure of this season's block...

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

No Matter Where You Go, Here It Is: "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension" Hits Blu-ray

A celebration of the cult classic "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension," in light of the film'...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus