Vision Quest (1985)
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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'.
(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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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...
I started wrestling late in my high school career just like Louden Swain. After moving back to my home town and being known as a total inept nerd, my goal was to make the varsity team and then after doing that the State tournament. It happened. This movie and all those peers from my high school inspired me to do it. I will never forget that winter of 1992 when I made it to fabled Gallagher-Iba arena. Man that's a great memory.
If you're a wrestler and need some motivation watch this movie!
As a high school wrestler, I could relate to the struggle to "make weight". And what teen-aged male wouldn't kill to have Linda Fiorintino's character, Carla, stuck in town and forced to live under the same roof? Throw in a great soundtrack, and you've got a great coming of age story.
Louden's vision quest, achieving excellence by dethroning the reigning wrestling champ, is clouded by the arrival of Carla. Louden must struggle to lose the weight, maintain his grades, and deal with his infatuation for the older Carla.
Again, the movie has some flaws, and the storyline isn't original (think Rocky, Karate Kid, et al), but the acting is great and young athletes, particularly wrestlers, will find themselves cheering for Louden and his Vision Quest(s) .
Louden Swain is sort of a goofy character, but he's authentic and ironclad. Louden drives through the experiences of youth with all the wonder and ferocity anyone could hope for. A combination of solid writing and acting render him a palpable character who's easy to empathize with. The northwestern city atmosphere helps.
Linda Fiorentino puts out a relatively deep character, and her looks don't hurt anything. There are some good performances elsewhere; happily, there really aren't many two dimensional characters to speak of.
Initially, the movie feels a little kitsch, but if you stick with it, you'll find it's more about coming of age and romance than sports. Not really a mind-blowing script or anything too memorable, but not at all a bad way to blow ninety minutes.
Hollywood didn't make this out to be some make believe deal... Louden's life, struggles and goals are all actually doable... Watch this movie and look at life through the eyes of an 18 year old, that isn't afraid to hope, to dream... This movie motivates me... This movie makes me feel good, that there are people in this world like Louden...
If any of you rent this after reading my post and don't agree, I'll email you a check for your rental fee...
While it might be a bit extreme, it's very difficult to describe to someone who hasn't wrestled what high school wrestling is like. The training and effort required is much more extensive than any other sport, and it is physically and mentally grueling.
This movie holds a special place in me because I did wrestle in high school, and hopefully, it can help show people who haven't wrestled how important wrestling is to those who do wrestle.
For Swain, making weight is a long and arduous process, consisting of constant running and frequent nosebleeds. Swain's sanity and competence are questioned by everyone else in his drab suburb of Spokane, WA. Meanwhile his only inspirations come from a beautiful, feisty 20-something wild flower named Carla, played by Linda Fiorentino, who drifts into town and bunks with Swain and his dad for a while.
All in all there are a lot of problems with this film. First off, the writers have little understanding of Wrestling as a sport. Matches end for no reason and scoring is inconsistent. In one scene, the home team forfeits the match simply because the away team has taken the lead, meaning the last couple wrestlers forgo their matches. Anyone who knows Wrestling remotely knows that this doesn't happen. Imagine your hometown baseball team is down 10-0 in the 3rd Inning. Even the Cubs would finish that game.
Also, like with Chess, champions in Wrestling are never made in a matter of two seasons. But inaccuracy and uninformed fantasy aside, there's more.
When not starving himself and risking his health to reach his goal, our "hero" is babbling on about virtues and character. Yet in one scene he tries to force himself sexually on his house guest/love, Carla, before she punches him in the face (prompting nosebleeds, again), only to have it brushed under the rug when she shows up to cheer him on at his wrestling meet.
In the end, boy wins girl, boy beats the unbeatable champion, and returns to high school and a normal diet. But Vision Quest will leave you and anyone who's not an anorexic, nerdy, sexually deviant excuse for an athlete wondering what the hell you've just watched for two hours.
But social issues and hang-ups aside, Vision Quest is just a bad, bad film.
written by Andy Frye, MySportsComplex.blogspot.com