Movie: All The Right Moves
A very young Tom Cruise shines in All the Right Moves, an early 80's drama about a high school football star relying on a football scholarship to act as his exit visa from dying Pennsylvania steel-mill hometown. Co-starring the always wonderful (and totally gorgeous) Lea Thompson as well as Chris Penn and Craig T. Nelson as, what else, Cruise's footbal coach, the film is a gritty drama about the difficulty of achieving adolescent dreams when reality and adulthood are putting you in a choke hold.
Cruise shows early signs of the versatility that would make him a star, and an earnestness that's missing from many of his more mega-watt turns made during his 2000's career. As Stef Djordjevic, he's likable and sympathetic. Similarly, Lea Thompson is sweetly innocent and frustrating as Cruise's high school sweetheard - a good girl that wants to give in to her boyfriend's advances but is afraid to do so for the stigma that could result. Their love scene together is sentimental and sweet, deftly handled by ace cinematographer (but here, director) Michael Chapman.
As for the football action - sports fans might be disappointed in the balance between energetic sports scenes and drama, but when the game is played the scenes are filmed with an exciting sense of urgency. This isn't Any Given Sunday or even The Replacements for that matter, so buyer beware. If what you're looking for is a challenging coming-of-age tale, you've found a good way to spend an hour an a half, but if you're looking for an underdog wins the day sports story, perhaps Varsity Blues might be a better fit.