Fandango - R - Comedy / Drama Directed by: Kevin Reynolds Time: 91 min.
Fandango - R - Comedy / Drama
Directed by: Kevin Reynolds Time: 91 min.
Fandango is a cult classic that was released in the U.S. in 1985. It stars Kevin Costner in his first lead acting role, and was written and directed by Kevin Reynolds, who first created the movie while in the USC film school. In an odd twist, Costner had auditioned for it then, but did not get the part. Steven Spielberg, who saw the original film, like it enough to help. Although he is not credited, his company Amblin Entertainment is represented.
The story is set in 1971, and begins in Austin Texas. Five students (Kevin Costner, Judd Nelson, Sam Robards, Chuck Bush, Brian Cesak) from the University of Texas, who named themselves "The Groovers" have been rooming together for four years, and are now set to graduate. The wild graduation party is interrupted by Waggener (Robards) with the news that he had been drafted, and would not go through with his planned marriage. To make the situation even more complicated, the fiancee Debbie (Suzy Amis), is the former girlfriend of Gardner (Costner). Gardner, after noting he has also been drafted, declares the Groovers must go on one final road trip to "dig up Dom." It is this quest that fuels the plot of the movie, and leads the group on a wild ride.
The movie is set up to be a final foray of youth before settling into their lives, or for three, possibly going to war. Phil Hicks, however, played by Judd Nelson, doesn't feel the same way. He is an ROTC student, and believes they shouldn't run off for days, and possibly miss their inductions. It's clear Waggener and Barnes do not want to end up in Vietnam, but Hicks sees it as his duty. He attempts to lock everyone out of the car, but is thwarted by the other three. The fifth Groover (Cesak), is basically passed out in the back window for the majority of the movie, carried about by Dorman (Bush), who is a large man. He was literally asked by Reynolds if he wanted to act while exiting a Texas convenience store, and did a splendid job, especially with limited lines.
Costner does his best acting at the Marfa, TX location, where he realizes James Dean had been to film Giant. There is a moment when the facade of the cool grifter drops, and the audience knows he is a fan of someone other than himself. There is a very poignant scene, after a stop at Sonic of course, when he gives his best friend Waggener advice. I've seen the movie dozens of times, and it always hits me the same.
Marvin J. McIntyre as Truman Sparks is one of the most notable of the lesser characters in the film. He is the owner of the Pecos Parachute School, that seems to have no students, and looks abandoned. The group had come upon the turn off to the place just as Hicks is pronouncing he would take on anything because he wasn't a weenie. Barnes, who will turn out to be quite the con man, manages to get them a free lesson. Things don't go quite as planned, and once again Reynolds gives a range of emotions while watching the scene. It is very well shot, as is the majority of the movie, and it's one more way the audience really sees Texas. (Mr. McIntyre runs a yearly gathering where fans can visit many of the places the movie was shot.)
As they did in real life, Robards and Amis end up married. I find the run up to the wedding, the shenanigans that get pulled to make it happen, and the dance tie up the ending very well. We're left wondering how all of their lives are going to turn out, especially one, who toasts his friends from the distance to Can't Find My Way Home.
The entire movie is filled with excellent music, mostly from the general time of the movie setting. I'm not certain why a soundtrack was never made. As a big fan, I had to cobble together my own. Also realize that as a big fan, it is easy to overlook some of the flaws in the film. It received the R rating mostly from the language and sexual situations that are probably still not good for younger kids. It's also not a coming of age movie, but more they are of age movie on one last trip together. If you don't appreciate movies on the road, or those set in Texas, it might not be right for you. However, if those are things that do resonate with you, I'd suggest finding a copy and just sitting back to enjoy.