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Craig T. Nelson
Hapless driving instructor and former Gunnery Sergeant Rafferty, living in squalor near Hollywood, California, doesn't put up too much of a fight when two ladies hitch a ride and attempt to kidnap him in their attempt to get to New Orleans; while initially put off, Rafferty finds he's charmed by the kooky pair of misfits and the three of them drive to Las Vegas, Nevada and later Tucson, Arizona, where their bond eventually unravels. Written by
Something special about loners, losers, and dreamers...
Alan Arkin plays a California driving instructor who is so bored with his job that he falls asleep in his student's car; getting kidnapped by two nuts like Sally Kellerman and Mackenzie Phillips is really just what he needs. Kellerman has done solid work in films such as "MASH" and "Slither", but she is truly remarkable here as a little girl in a woman's body, convinced she has musical potential and that street urchin Phillips can help her realize her dream of becoming a professional singer (she believes the best in everybody). Phillips is tough and guarded, but lets her walls down in surprising ways (at one point, Arkin sneaks a little kick at her and she kicks back--she's enjoying a grown up's closeness for the first time). As Rafferty, Arkin is wonderfully flexible and warm; alienated and confused, he isn't even hopeful enough to get a decent car (the one he does drive seems glued together). The friendship that develops between these three people is funny and touching. It probably catches them by surprise, yet the characters don't acknowledge their new bond (by discussing it, they may burst the balloon). I didn't care for a padded sequence mid-movie that has Arkin's brakes going out (the three leads "walk to town", only they're in the middle of nowhere), but I did love many scenes: Kellerman singing in a Tucson roadhouse; her visit to her father, an embittered cowboy who wants nothing to do with his daughter; Arkin desperately trying to hang onto his friends; Phillips nearly selling herself to buy Arkin a cowboy hat (the only present she's ever bought for anybody). An underrated, warm-hearted movie, "Rafferty" is a lost gem awaiting rediscovery. ***1/2 from ****
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