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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 4.17%
Average: 1.39%
Pretty Bad: 5.56%
Total Crap: 2.78%

1 review, 66 user ratings

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by Brian McKay

"Kevin Costner's Breakout Role, and the Road Trip to end all Road Trips"
5 stars

Somewhere between ending up on the cutting room floor of THE BIG CHILL and taking the lead in THE UNTOUCHABLES, Kevin Costner starred in a little-known film called FANDANGO. Although the young Costner brings leading-man charisma to the table, FANDANGO excels due to the excellent ensemble cast (including Judd Nelson), and the direction of Kevin Reynolds. Okay, he also directed Costner's financial Titanic, WATERWORLD, but for this little gem, I can forgive them both.

A group of five friends who call themselves "The Groovers" have just graduated from college in 1971. Whatever future they might have is tenuous at best, with the Vietnam draft looming imminent. Gardner Barnes (Costner) is the de-facto leader of the Groovers, with Phil Hicks (Judd Nelson) as his reluctant second in command. Gardner is a smooth talker, a mischievious slacker, and a sure ticket to getting into trouble. Phil counterbalances him as the straight-arrow, always hesitant to go along with Gardner's shenanigans (though he always ends up going along anyway). The other three Groovers include the hulking and bearded Kenneth (Sam Robards), the self-conscious Lester (Brian Cesak), and the apparently narcoleptic Dorman (Chuck Bush).

Lester is dating Debbie (Suzy Amis), Gardner's ex-girlfriend who he dumped because he couldn't be tied down (even though she is really the one he let get away). Though the two remain friends, Gardner's seemingly altruistic attempts to talk Lester out of marriage are obviously agenda-based.

With college behind them and the draft ahead, Gardner decides that a road trip is in order - one last hurrah before Vietnam or adulthood claim them. The destination: Mexico, to dig up their old friend "Dom". Naturally, the only Groover who has access to a car is Phil, who refuses to "borrow" his parents' vintage Cadillac for the occasion. Refuses, that is, until he finally succumbs to the old Garnder charm, at which point he agrees "As long as you don't put a scratch on it!"

If you think that car will survive this trip without a scratch, think again.

The five friends hit the road, and although nobody wants to admit it, this is the Groovers' last ride. As they trek across the Texas desert toward the border, Gardner takes the wheel and argues about the war and the draft with Phil. Tensions escalate between them when Garnder admits that he plans on dodging the draft, while Phil is gung-ho to serve his country - even if he doesn't understand why they are fighting in Vietnam. Meanwhile, Kenneth doesn't say a word the entire trip because he's too busy reading a comic book, Dorman doesn't say a word because he's too busy sleeping, and Lester struggles with the questions of whether he should marry Debbie or go off to the war.

All this happens against a backdrop of hysterically funny misadventures, setbacks, and near disasters. A vehicular breakdown gives rise to the brilliant idea of pulling the car to the next town with the use of a bumper, a rope, a lasso, and a moving train. While passing through a small town, they pick up two jailbait sluts and have a fireworks fight in the local graveyard. In one of the film's most profound scenes, Gardner and Phil are crawling along the ground laughing and dodging bottle rockets when they come across the tombstone of a young man killed in Vietnam. As they lay side by side pondering the inscription, the rockets and fireworks continue to explode in the backround, eerily resembling the sounds and flashing lights of a battle. It is a sobering moment for both the protagonists and the viewer, and beautifully done. However, the high point of their journey arrives when they spot a sign for the "Truman Sparks Parachute School" in the middle of nowhere. Gardner dares Phil into taking an impromptu skydive, and Phil musters up his bravado and agrees - although he is obviously scared shitless at the prospect. The "school" consists of a gutted hangar, a plane that looks like a derelict, and the proprietor, Truman Sparks (Marvin J. McIntyre) - a stoned, brain-dead, but exuberant hippie who assures the Groovers that his plane and parachutes are "perfectly safe." Yeah, oookay. What follows is ten of the funniest minutes you'll ever see in film. The expression on Judd Nelson's face alone is worth the price of admission, and it clearly falls between "Oh my God, I'm gonna die," and "If I don't die, I'm going to kill you guys!"

Call it a comedy, a drama, or a coming-of-age film, FANDANGO is a road trip you won't want to miss out on. It is one of Costner's finest hours. This isn't the Costner of Tin Cup, The Postman, or Waterworld. This is the Bull Durham Costner, and that's the Costner we really love. Judd Nelson is the quintessential straight man, and FANDANGO is a milestone role in his career - even if nobody saw it. Likewise, the ensemble cast is excellent and are equal contributors - even if two of them don't say a word until the closing credits are about to roll. Sure, the story is contrived as hell in places (Like Truman's "unscheduled" flight to pick up Debbie), but you should be having so much fun by then that you won't really notice.

It's an act of criminal negligence that FANDANGO hasn't been released on DVD by Warner Brothers yet. Not only does it deserve a digital release, but there are plenty of great deleted scenes that have been re-incorporated into television versions of the film, and would make for a nice special features package. Consider this a petition to Warner Brothers: "If you make it, we will come!"

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originally posted: 01/18/03 08:28:13
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User Comments

10/15/19 wyojo Love this film! So great and so "get 'er done"! 5 stars
7/12/15 Jess You got 3 of the Groover's names wrong. Lester is the unconscious one. Dorman is the big h 5 stars
5/24/15 Rollerbob Memorable y difĂ­cil de encontrar 4 stars
2/15/15 guena this film deserve one star 1 stars
1/08/13 Gregg in Colorado If you partied your way through your undergrad in the 70's or 80's; you'll get it. 5 stars
8/09/11 Kathy B This is one of my favorite movies. Great mix of comedy with some drama thrown in. Love it! 5 stars
10/08/08 Dave in Denver Done got married in cowboy boots cuz a this 'un!! The Blind Faith and Metheny was nice too 5 stars
3/07/08 c delp It touches a sweet part of the soul, and is beautifully shot and scored. A future classic! 5 stars
3/01/08 dabullman absolutely wonderful 5 stars
11/19/05 dave magical 5 stars
8/26/05 D Buckley Kevin Costner is a good actor. Yes, he is. 2 stars
8/19/05 Francoise I saw the movie in 1985 and fell in love instantly. SOOOO glad they are finally releasing i 5 stars
8/03/05 ALDO Kevin Costner ain't that bad. In fact, he's fuckin awesome 5 stars
3/29/05 Andrzej Janczewski really good! 5 stars
3/15/05 Mark Waltz ONE OF THE BEST EVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/07/05 Jeff Anderson A Kevin Costner film that DESERVES to be seen & Judd Nelson gives his greatest performance! 5 stars
1/04/05 bart gooba im a fuckin' gooba, clap bakc magoobahhh 5 stars
10/21/04 Mark Mathers Dam, Iwish they would put this on DVD 5 stars
10/07/04 Joli Tarter Makes up for any Kevin Costner follies afterwards. If only he always stayed this good. Tota 5 stars
8/25/04 Beavis this movie kicks ass! superb for costner's debut. 5 stars
8/22/04 Alex Best film ever! 5 stars
8/20/04 Allen A sleeper hit. Some of the funniest scenes ever filmed. 5 stars
8/05/04 Spencer The funniest Costner movie...ever 5 stars
6/29/04 Mike cult classic 5 stars
6/27/04 JEB Stuart HAHAHAHAHA! Great flick! Soundtrack is good, too. 5 stars
6/22/04 Ned Kelly One of the greatest movies of all time!! 5 stars
6/07/04 L Smith Hysterical - Aaangels!!! 5 stars
6/02/04 Jean RASSON this is a gem 5 stars
6/02/04 Maegs A fun movie, but really overrated 3 stars
5/27/04 Soumya Palchoudhuri A great movie about good old friends and good old memories. 5 stars
5/08/04 Kristie Lewis A classic film that defines a generation/it's time for the DVD 5 stars
4/16/04 Derek Blackburn Can't wait for the UK DVD 5 stars
3/31/04 Rob Segedi I relish the fact others enjoyed this film as much as I did. I echo all their comments 5 stars
3/27/04 Bill Appell Great! The Best! Hilarious! 5 stars
3/15/04 robert hartman one of the best films ever made. 5 stars
12/30/03 luciano ayres It`s a wonderful movie. 5 stars
11/04/03 Greg Enjoyable ride through "the priviledges of youth." 4 stars
11/01/03 Brett Martin The skydiving part in the movie is great! 5 stars
10/27/03 RADU TROFIN one of the most beautiful movies i've ever seen. 5 stars
10/03/03 Daniel Sorry, I must have missed something that everyone else seems to see. 2 stars
9/25/03 Delboy Fantastic film! Waiting for DVD... 5 stars
9/23/03 Nina Holland A1 5 stars
8/24/03 Chris One of my favorites 5 stars
8/21/03 Luczjano Jose Martinez Best of The BEST!!! 5 stars
8/06/03 Alex Musson Loved it! See fan site at Images, interviews, DVD petition... 5 stars
7/29/03 Tyrone Slothrop This was a very good film 5 stars
7/28/03 Shawn I loved this movie, and wish it would be released on DVD!!!! 5 stars
7/17/03 amedeo Great 5 stars
7/08/03 Paul C. Torres I love the spirit of the film specially the soundtracks! 5 stars
6/28/03 Marc Christy this movie is like a guide to having an awsome college experience 5 stars
6/21/03 DANNY GANS HILARIOUS 5 stars
6/10/03 poorflatpicker greatest roadtrip movie ever, top five college movie 5 stars
6/06/03 jim tis alright ....ish 2 stars
4/30/03 Jeff Bockoven Most underrated movie I've ever seen 5 stars
4/24/03 a gilmore very important to me 5 stars
4/16/03 Craig Newman My Favorite, ever. 5 stars
4/13/03 groover excellent! 5 stars
4/06/03 Crawdaddy This is a must see for anybody about to go off to college! It will inspire many road trips 5 stars
3/28/03 louise i love this film 5 stars
3/19/03 Carolyn Barnett A well-done sleeper, no, make that a waker-upper--see this movie. Pure Escapism! 5 stars
1/18/03 Jack Sommersby An uneven but ingratiating comedy. Costner is winning, and the parachute scene is gut-funny 4 stars
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  25-Jan-1985 (PG)
  DVD: 15-Feb-2005



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