Fandango, the feature film debut from director Kevin Reynolds, makes its arrival on Blu-ray via the Warner Archive Collection.
Steven Spielberg’s name might not be on the movie but both Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy produced for Amblin Entertainment. The film had been produced on a $7 million budget but it didn’t get a wide release. In fact, it brought in under $100,000 at the box office. However, it’s found a second life on home video and became a cult classic in the process. If not for Proof, who knows if Fandango would have become a feature film. It took Spielberg watching the USC thesis film to finance this feature about the University of Texas roommates going on one last road trip together. Believe me when I say that this film is as far away from the typical Spielberg film as it gets. Maybe this is why he pulled his name?
Kevin Costner, in one of his first leading roles, and Judd Nelson lead the cast as Groover leader Gardner Barnes and ROTC geek Phil Hicks, respectively. Costner would really breakout over the next few years of his career with star-making performances in Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. Of course, Nelson would appear in The Breakfast Club a few weeks after the release of this film. His characters in both films could not be more different. Sam Robards, Chuck Bush, and Brian Cesak round out the Groovers.
One can see some of the influences from earlier films such as American Graffiti. Where the George Lucas film focuses on high schoolers just before college, this film follows college roommates just before they graduate and enter the real world. Given the 1971 setting, it’s no surprise that it deals with themes such as the draft and life after college. The draft is a serious subject and it’s not hard to see how much it looms over the characters in the film. It’s enough that Kenneth Waggener (Sam Robards) breaks off his engagement to Debbie (Suzy Amis) during the opening moments. This is before the Groovers take Phil’s Cadillac and go on a road trip down to the Rio Grande. But even with the serious subjects at hand, the film knows how to find the comedy in the situation.
Fandango also gives us one of the earlier feature film scores from composer Alan Silvestri. His work on this film comes just one year after working with Robert Zemeckis on Romancing the Stone. Outside of his score, the soundtrack is full of rock songs. This is one of those films where the music helps to elevate the material. One example is the use of Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” during the opening credits.
Following this film, both Reynolds and Costner would collaborate again on Dances with Wolves, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Waterworld, and Hatfields and McCoys. Until the History Channel miniseries came happened, their collaboration was as good as done. Much like their characters, both Sam Robards and Suzy Amis got married in real life.
The Warner Archive Collection released the film on Blu-ray back in April. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I’m just now getting to watching it. It’s presented in 1080p HD in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio with a DTS-HD MA English 5.1 soundtrack.
Fandango is a solid feature debut that manages to find the comedy in this road trip movie against the backdrop of the draft in the early 1970s.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Kevin Reynolds
CAST: Kevin Costner, Judd Nelson, Sam Robards, Chuck Bush, Brian Cesak
Warner Bros. released Fandango in theaters on January 25, 1985. Grade: 4.5/5
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