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While I bought the soundtrack to 'Vision Quest' while the movie was
still new, I didn't bother to see the movie until recently. While a
great soundtrack and a braless Linda Fiorentino was quite appealing,
the 'high school wrestler' plot didn't interest me at all. A few years
later, after seeing the sappy Matthew Modine in 'Married to the Mob, '
I lost all interest in 'Vision Quest'. However, after catching (I wish)
Linda Fiorentino in 'Men in Black,' and finding 'Vision Quest on
ENCORE, I thought, 'What the heck? It's free.' So, my wife and I
snuggled in and watched. We were glad we did. Sure, Modine was sappy,
but so was his character, Loudan Swain. Loudan's a goofy kid who just
turned 18. He's also smart and athletic and decent. He's a wrestler and
he plans to beat the best high school wrestler in the state. Loudan
wants this not for glory or awards; he just believes he can do it and
makes a superhuman effort to lose the weight required to compete in the
champ's weight class. His buddy, Kuch, who fancies himself an American
Indian, observes Loudan is making a 'vision quest' for self discovery.
During Loudan's journey and 'rite of passage to manhood' he meets
Carla, a street smart, sexy girl three years his senior. Loudan falls
for Carla and now has two dreams, to fight the champ and to win Carla.
Daryl Ponicson ('The Last Detail,' 'Cinderella Liberty) wrote the fine, incisive screenplay from the novel by Terry Davis. The movie has a lot to say about life and how dedication leads to genius. The language is rough, but quite natural. Linda Fiorentino has the movies funniest line, which refers to the 'Holland Tunnel', but J. C. Quinn, who plays Modene's chef friend, has the most poetic monologue, regarding Pele and soccer. Even though things don't work out exactly as Loudan expected, he's uplifted and exhilarated and you will be, too.
The outstanding soundtrack contains music by Tangerine Dream, Journey, REO Speedwagon and Madonna, among others. While the songs were not written for the movie (except, probably the Oscar worthy 'Crazy for You'), they work extremely well. Credit director Howard Becker ('The Onion Field,' 'Sea of Love') for getting the best from his talented cast of actors and musicians. 'Vision Quest' is not a great movie, but a good one. I give it a '7'.
Its not hard to understand why some viewers would dislike this movie,
since less than .1% of the worlds population ever wrestled in a
But, for those that have, and for the friends and parents of those wrestlers, this movie is a solid 9/10 rating. The movie hits on every aspect of this sports tortuous rigor: losing weight every week, not eating, training, and the mental gymnastics involved with having to believe that you can beat anyone at anytime.
And most realistically, this movie also shows the hardships of doing what every other high school kid does, in combination with the rigors of the sport. They have love relationships, they have classmates, they have to deal with the teachers and coaches, as well as their own family, plus they have to deal with their own teammates each week who may want to take over the top position at their weight.
As one who had over 100 high school matches (15 years before the making of this movie), I can confirm that there is no better movie than this about high school wrestling. When you rate this movie you should not think about how good it is among all other movies, rather you should rate it solely based on its ability to achieve the objective of accurately portraying its subject.
I guess that some would think Louden is not a "team player", but wrestling is an individual sport, no matter how others would want to portray it (although if you win your team gets points). Now that this diatribe (which it might be to some) is about over, I will summarize as follows: Do not watch the movie if you don't care about seeing an exceptionally good story about high school wrestling, you won't like it!
I've been a fan for over 10 years, both my daughters love this movie, and as a former HS wrestler I'm probably hooked for life. Begs to be remade with less emphasis on the goo goo eyes for Linda Fiorentino but Matthew Modine is just terrific, both as kid on a mission and a wrestler. 9/10
I have to be bias about this movie. First of all, I was high school
there wasn't much out there for exposure in this sport. Yes, the plot is
with cliches: high school jock trying to fullfil a dream while winning the
heart of a
woman. It's so 80s! I needed a movie to psyche myself up and I was so
that it made me sweat in a rubber suit and starved myself till I dropped
(thankfully, I don't do that anymore). Bottom line is, this film is all about glory-and everbody dreams about glorifying themselves-and Louden Swain is no different. I also like to mention that this film has one of the best movie soundtrack
compilations ever (better than Rocky, and who wants to listen to Survivor over and over again).
Any time I need to get psyched up this is the movie I think about. I learned watching it back in the 80's that if you have a dream you have to go after it because nobody is going to give it to you. It doesn't matter if you are a wrestler, a financial analyst, an astronaut or a bartender everybody has a dream. Louden set a goal, had a plan and went after what he wanted, that's what we all need to do. This movie has had a great effect on my life. I guess everybody has their own motivational tools and cheesy or not this is one of mine. From the peg board climbing scene to the Pele description scene to the warm up scene playing out to "Lunatic Fringe" before his match with Shute this movie, in my opinion is an inspirational masterpiece. I really wish they would re-release the soundtrack because I can't find it anywhere.
We used to watch this before big games. I especially like the Ronnie
James Dio / Don Henley / Madonna soundtrack.
whatever happened to shute??? I hate wrestling but this is a classic underdog story.
Linda Fiorentino says she really likes 'big hands'. Hilarious. The wrestler character here is only about 100 times more believable than the Emilio Estevez character in Breakfast Club. Linda Fiorentino has great 80's hair in this film. The scenes with him climbing up the peg wall are the best non-Shute scenes by far. This picture has really solid naturalistic dialogue.
This isn't a movie about wrestling, it's a movie about a young 18-year-old wrestler trying to find his place in the world.
Louden Swayne (Matthew Modine) decides last minute to switch weight classes in order to be able to take on the best wrestler in the state, but his half-American Indian friend tells Louden that he's on a vision quest, trying to find his purpose in life, to "find the answers", even if he doesn't know the questions. The vision quest theme is not flushed out that well, but it's certainly a better title than "Crazy For You", which makes this movie seem like nothing more than a sappy romance flick.
His path crosses with Carla, a struggling artist (Linda Fiorentino) who gets stranded in Spokane, WA due to her lemon car; she ends up staying with Lauden and his father. Fiorentino gets all the good lines in this script, with Modine stuck playing the naive, hormonal teenager his character is for most of the movie.
Their relationship begins as a fraternal one -- she even declares him a "stepbrother" at one point, to his eternal dismay; he's already fallen in love with her.
At his job filling room service orders at a hotel, Lauden becomes good friends with the short-order cook, Elmo (J.C. Quinn), and the two have unusual conversations which serve to fill in Lauden's character without being too boring or overtly expositional.
Surprisingly good acting from Fiorentino and Quinn (especially during his Pele speech near the end), some snappy dialogue and a quick cameo from Madonna all lead to a movie that is easy to watch, with characters easy to like and to care about. Just remember -- no matter what anyone else says, it's not a wrestling movie.
A slightly different spin on the traditional Underdog Athlete Overcomes the Odds storyline, Vision Quest is a decent film for most viewers (for those who have actually endured the challenges of the collegiate wrestling world, the movie is practically required viewing!). Modine and Fiorentino, who went on to better-known films such as Equinox and Jade, respectively, are solid if unspectacular in roles as a high school wrestler and the world-weary object of his desires. Among the other notables who appear in the movie: a young Forrest Whitaker, James Gammon, Michael Schoeffling (Sixteen Candles), and Madonna, who contributed "Crazy For You" and "Gambler" to an underrated soundtrack. The wrestling sequences are gritty and realistic, as are the frequent portrayals of training. But the screenplay's dialogue is often choppy and does little to develop the potentially interesting characters. Subplots are hinted at but are not followed through with. And there is a lack of smooth transition between sequences. Still, Vision Quest is watchable and worthwhile as a rental (if you are a wrestler, this is especially true).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From the winter of 1989 until the Spring of 1993, I was a high school
wrestler. During that time period, I watched Vision Quest so many times that
I wore out my taped copy of it. Recently I saw the DVD on sale for $7.99 at
Best Buy (blatant plug for Best Buy?) and I said what the
I suppose with ten years more wisdom behind me, it allowed me to watch the movie with a more critical eye. And allowed me to see how untrue to life the movie really was. Granted, it's not Saved By the Bell fake. You know, where Slater eats a pre-weigh in cheeseburger and proceeds to pound a supposedly tough opponet in ten seconds while wearing no headgear and Vans. If it wanted to be more realistic, the story would go more like this.
* Four days before the match, Lowden Swain checks in at 180 pounds. He then proceeds to go get five sweatshirts and a garbage bag, which will make up his outfit for the next couple of days. All eating will stop from here on out.
* Three days before the match. Lowden is probably down to about 177 lbs at this time. That's a good start, but not enough. Lowden proceeds to mess with the wrestling room thermostat, cranking it up as high as it can go. The end result with 40 other guys sweating in the room is a temperature slightly higher than a June Day in Saudi Arabia.
* Two days before the match. Lowden is at 172 pounds. But oops, he had a bite of post-coital pizza. He's now back at 174 pounds. It's your own fault for messing up your metabolism so badly Louden.
*One day before the match. Lowden works back to about 170 lbs. From now on, he won't be allowed any liquid or food. With the exception of Jolly Ranchers, which he'll use to generate saliva that he can spit out.
*Day of the match. The bottle Lowden has been hocking into is now nearly full with Jolly Rancher spit. He's still half a pound over, so he stands on his head for a half hour or so while spitting. It's time for weigh ins. Louden, you're over. What were you thinking wearing a T-Shirt to weigh ins? Take it all off and try again. After you make it, you can eat that deli sandwich you've been saving. Kick Kuch's ass, and coach may even take you out to Sizzler afterwards so you can get a week's worth of calories back in your system. But be ready, on Monday the pain starts again.
This would probably be a pretty horrible movie though, and what Lowden does to cut weight really isn't the most important part of the script. Elmo points out what this movie is about, "It's not six minutes, it's what happens in the six minutes." Which is part of it, but not all of it. As my old wrestling coach pointed out incesantly, if you believe in something hard enough and are willing to work for it you can make anything happen. I'm quite sure if they ever make Vision Quest II, Lowden Swain will be a Doctor in Outer Space.
Anyway, after watching Vision Quest for the million and first time, I proceeded to get off my butt and run three miles. It's been ten years since I last donned a singlet and headgear. But that doesn't mean there aren't other things out there for me to conquer.
Modine is a high school wrestler who's just turned 18 and is in so much
hurry to grow up. In the first 45 minutes of the movie, he's chosen 3 or
different careers. (Ah! To be young, again!) The movie follows all the
basic plot lines concerning coming of age that does stand the test of
because, even though this movie is almost 20 years old, a lot of the kids
today can relate to it.
Along the way, Modine's father (Cox) has lost his job, Modine decides to move down, not just one, but two, weight classes to take on the best wrestler in the state, and a very pretty Jersey girl (Fiorentino) shows up on his doorstep to take up all his spare "thinking" time.
This is really not a bad movie. It examines some of what goes on in someone's head when they get in the frame of mind that they want something that just about everyone else feels is unattainable for them. Modine does a very good job in bringing the character of Louden to believability, and the surrounding cast puts in a good effort as well. It is a better-than-average teen flick movie, but not much (but I think it's only because I haven't been a teen ager in so long, myself).
6 out of 10...
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