Monday, July 11, 2022

Tonight's Movie: Fandango (1985) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

FANDANGO (1985) is the second of a pair of 1985 Kevin Costner films recently released on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive.

The other film was AMERICAN FLYERS (1985), reviewed here last month.

Both FANDANGO and AMERICAN FLYERS were released in the same year as Costner's key supporting role in SILVERADO (1985), which helped launch him to stardom. THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987) followed shortly thereafter, and Costner's career shot into the stratosphere from that point on.

FANDANGO is a Vietnam-era coming-of-age story about new college graduates I found highly reminiscent of AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973); the main difference is that the earlier film is about high schoolers.

Gardner (Costner), Phil (Judd Nelson), Kenneth (Sam Robards), Dorman (Chuck Bush), and Lester (Brian Cesak) are buddies who call themselves the Groovers.

Kenneth is scheduled to marry Gardner's ex-girlfriend Debbie (Suzy Amis) right after graduation, but he gets cold feet when he gets his draft notice.

Gardner also has a draft notice, while ROTC member Phil plans on officer's school. Lester is going into accounting, while Dorman plans on the ministry.

Kenneth decides to call off the wedding and the five guys take off on an impromptu road trip, a last hurrah before facing more serious life responsibilities. Along the way, Kenneth has second thoughts about cancelling his wedding...

I liked FANDANGO better than AMERICAN FLYERS, finding it more touching and likeable, though truth to tell it still wasn't really my thing. I have limited patience for young men acting like idiots, whether it's mooning people at a party, doing dangerous things with fireworks, or even more risky goofball stunts like parachuting without proper preparation. Fortunately the movie was rated PG which kept things from getting overly tasteless.

No one will be surprised that my favorite bit involved a visit to Marfa, Texas, where GIANT (1956) was filmed. There were also some genuinely funny moments; the conclusion of a scene with a train and a car merited some chuckles, and I really liked the film's sweet "Have a nice life" conclusion. The film has some good things going for it, and I can imagine a viewer who has more patience with the film's shenanigans liking it more than I did.

Another strong point is that the movie knows when to quit, clocking in at just 91 minutes, making it significantly shorter than the 113 minutes of AMERICAN FLYERS.

Costner is okay in this, but his pushy, unhappy character lacks much of the Costner charm until the movie's final scenes. That said, I'm glad I checked the film out for more insight into his career. Both FANDANGO and AMERICAN FLYERS gave me very different looks at Costner's early characters; it's almost hard to believe the dour doctor of AMERICAN FLYERS was played by the same actor!

As a side note, I was interested to learn that Robards, the son of Lauren Bacall and Jason Robards, married costar Amis the year after this film was released; the marriage lasted until 1994.

FANDANGO was written and directed by Kevin Reynolds and filmed by Thomas Del Ruth. A trailer is here.

The Warner Archive Blu-ray is a typically nice print. The lone extra on the disc is a trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection Amazon Store or from any online retailers where Blu-rays are sold.


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