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I guess that everyone has to make a comeback at some point. And that's
exactly what embarrassed Taft resident Jack Dundee (Robin Williams)
intends to do in "The Best of Times". Yep, the man who went all crazy
with the radio in "Good Morning, Vietnam" is playing football. In this
case, he seeks to replay a game that cost his high school a prestigious
title. But ex-teammate Reno Hightower (Kurt Russell) isn't just going
to go along with it so easily.
Granted, it's not the best movie for either man. But Williams and Russell are actually a pretty good comedy team. And some of the names in this movie are likely to give you the giggles (to say the least). Check it out.
The Best of Times is one of the great sleepers of all time. The setup does not tax your patience, the development is steady, the many intertwined relationships are lovingly established, the gags and bits all work and all are funny. There is lots of sentimentality. Kurt Russell playing Reno Hightower puts in one of his best performances, and Robin Williams playing Jack Dundee is sure-footed as ever. The cast also includes many great supporters. Jack's wife is played by Jack Palance's daughter, who is lovely, as is Reno's wife, who is a great comedian. I can't tell you how many times I've watched this movie, how many times I have enjoyed it and how often I wish that more people could see it.
Why did this movie fail commercially? It's got a sharp script (by Ron Shelton) and great performances by Kurt Russell and, especially, Robin Williams, in a brilliant manic nerd turn that's different from any of his other work. A great renter.
Robin Williams and Kurt Russell play guys in their 30's who put their marraiges in jeopardy by deciding (Russell somewhat reluctantly) to replay their heartbreaking tie with rival Bakersfield years after the fact. Williams is ok, but Russell is flat-out great as legendary Taft quarterback Remo Hightower. Holly Palance does a nice and attractive turn as Williams' wife, who could live without this rematch. Film is worth watching just to see the famed Remo in action. Highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The film did not do well at the box office.
I saw it in a sneak preview.
I have always enjoyed the film.
I live in 1 of the cities mentioned in the film where past players moved to.
Not the best film ever put to screen, but enjoyable.
Robin did well with his role.
Best line of the film at the beginning, by Robin's character Jack: "I was that SOB!" Cleaned up here as not to offend anyone.
Was glad when it came to DVD a few years back in the wide screen/letter box format.
I am not a football fan or a real sports fan. But, you do not need to be one to like this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Spoiler This movie is about such a concept. Williams will go to any low in order to replay the football game that haunts his life. Russel plays the ex jock who peaked in high school. Finally the under dog get its shot, and Williams can save face, instead of being the clown. A great reverse tragedy. 7/10
If you can ever wrap your mind around the concept of Robin Williams as
a high school jock I think you might enjoy The Best Of Times. What this
is not is a film using the hit song from La Cage Aux Folles as a theme.
Instead Robin Williams plays a guy with a reputation of blowing a long pass from quarterback Kurt Russell in a final game with Bakersfield that blew the state championship for the best high school team that Taft, California ever produced. In fact the opening narrative makes it quite clear that Taft, California is one loser of a town throughout its history. Still living in a small town and married to Holly Palance, daughter of Donald Moffat who was a booster of the Bakersfield team has made life pretty miserable.
No more miserable than it was for Kurt Russell who blew out a knee when the entire Bakersfield line nailed him just as he got off the pass that Williams dropped thereby losing a possible pro career.
So Williams who's had 15 years of taunts decides to challenge his father-in-law to replay the game and maybe history won't repeat itself. It's going to take a lot though to motivate the rest of the team, especially Russell, but Williams has a bag of tricks.
I guess there's nothing sillier then old men trying to act young again. As Bill Holden said to Gloria Swanson, there's nothing wrong with being 50 unless you try to act like you're 25. That forms the basis for most of the comedy in The Best Of Times.
Both Williams and Russell have done better work, but this one will provide a few laughs. Still Williams as a jock does not compute.
The big game defines the modern male in pre-pc America. Your born, you learn a few things, you play in the big game, and you die. Kurt and Robin struggle with the cycle of life in this movie and committ the un-natural act of playing the game over. Not the classic struggle of good versus evil but the classic struggle simply for the sake of strugle. Where is Kid Lester today, on "Pop up Video?"
Moron, California was renamed Taft after the discovery of oil. The town
suffers from a losing streak until 1972 when star quarterback Reno
Hightower (Kurt Russell) seemed poised to win against hated rival
Bakersfield. Hightower suffered a career ending knee injury as he
launched the perfect game winning pass. Jack Dundee (Robin Williams)
dropped the ball and has been haunted by that moment. Present day, he
is a bank VP and married to the boss's daughter. His boss, the Colonel,
is a big Bakersfield booster who taunts him relentlessly. Reno's life
is stale and his wife Gigi (Pamela Reed) wants a divorce to try singing
in L.A. Jack gets his car fixed every week by Reno but it's only an
excuse to drive the loaner out to the massage parlor to see former
Homecoming Queen Darla. She comes up with the idea to replay the game
which ended in a tie. Using lies and blackmail, Jack convinces the town
to battle Bakersfield once more.
I like the general concept of this black comedy. I'm fine with Jack being a little weasel although Robin Williams may be wasted in this role. I would like more friendship between him and Reno. Their bitterness taints the chemistry. It makes the movie less fun than it should be. In the end, the few laughs are just enough to make this work.
High School. How much is packed into that four year period that will
mold and define our lives ever after. As definitively portrayed by
Janis Ian in her surprise hit classic "At Seventeen," the real high
school stories are not about the Beach Boys driving around town in
their deuce coupe and their woody, surrounded by the finest of high
school womanhood, but rather about the poor souls alone at home on
Recently someone I know had his guitar stolen. It was not just any guitar, but one he cherished that was given to him, a good looking young man, as a present by family friends in thanks for his having taken their daughter to her senior prom when she had no one else who would have taken her. To the parents, that was what it was worth to have their daughter holding her head up proudly at the prom versus being miserably alone at home.
Jack, here played to perfection by Robin Williams, was one of those chronic losers, forever unable to escape the disgrace of having dropped an easy game-winning catch that would have propelled his team to victory for the first time ever against rival big, bad Bakersfield. This film depicts Jack's unlikely redemption and, if you were one who was greatly moved by "At Seventeen," you will probably brush a tear from your eye at the end.
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