Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Before Tom went crazy...

Unlike most high school football players, Stef Djordjevic has more to worry about than how well he'll do in the next game. He is convinced that football is his ticket out of Ampipe, the small steel working town that doesn't offer him the opportunity to become an engineer. On top of the pressure from his dad to go to any college that wants him and the anger his brother has about him rejecting the path of the steel worker, Stef has to worry about the possibility of leaving his girlfriend. His only cohort in the plan to escape Ampipe, his best friend Brian, bails when he finds out his girlfriend is pregnant. Stef is torn between his dream to leave and his ties to the close-knit town.
Tom Cruise displays a wide range of emotion in this film, as does his girlfriend, played by Lea Thompson. Though its themes are somewhat cliched, there are enough twists and turns to make it less possible to predict each scene as it comes. The football coach, played by Craig T. Nelson, turns out to be less one-dimensional than we might expect. The same is true of Brian, who decides that having a child is "what he really wants" after all. There is something sweet about all of the characters that draws us into the personal lives of everyone in this dingy industrial town. In this way, it is not a typical 80's high school flick: it is not all about the teenagers, but shows their place in the community.

The gray background and ever-present smog allow us to feel as trapped as Stef does. For good measure, the director includes stereotypical scenes of the high school party, and parking on a cliff overlooking the town. Overall, All the Right Moves is very well made. I would recommend this to anyone who would like to see another teen movie, with a twist. His youth makes Tom Cruise seem more endearing than in later films, but he brings the same great energy to his acting as he does in Jerry Maguire.

P.S. - Don't watch this movie for the football. Scenes of the games are lame.

1 comment:

Vladigogo said...

Yep, this is a gritty film. It ain't no COCKTAIL and it ain't no MISSION IMPOSSIBLE. It definitely is Tom at an early point of his career and worth a look for that part of his career (also the film TAPS, which for some reason was a huge cult film for a bunch of Southern white boys in high school in the early 80s--plus for some reason I think Cruise dies in it and any film he dies in is worth watching)