August 21st, 2007


Gotcha! (1985)

I'm sure I saw this in 1987 or 1988, but here it is (let's say) 20 years later, and I watched it again. It's a little odd to see Anthony Edwards wearing James Spader hair, but it was the mid-eighties, and the blow-dried coif was film shorthand to say that this was a kid whose parents had money.

Nothing remarkable about the plot - typical "kid's game gets reprised as tense large-theatre conflict" (see also: WarGames, Cloak and Dagger, Ender's Game). The most enjoyable pieces were seeing Edwards and Fiorentino a generation before their "ER" and "Dogma" roles, as well as listening to a soundtrack with Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Nik Kershaw, and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts when they were contemporary.

If you want to scratch a little deeper, there are reminders of the different era we lived in then, including:

  • The Cold War - Remember that? The plot hinges on the Russians being the bad guys, and comes complete with an explanation that the Deutche Demokratische Republik is East Germany. Helpful for clueless kids of the day, and a new generation who might see the movie now.
  • Terrorists are Sexy - Edwards' buddy suggests that he's a wanted international criminal to get together with women, including telling Edwards that the chick thinks he's a terrorist. It's hard to imagine that bit of dialog being written today.
  • Guns on Campus - At one point in my college career, I engaged in the game pictured at the beginning of the movie, except that instead of paintballs, small plastic disks were used. Less chance of damaging clothing and the environment, one would imagine. Even so (and this was a geeky campus), the players of our game got a similar level of contempt as was pictured in the movie. Now, several years later, I can't imagine that such a game would be permitted on campus (our game was advertised and at least tolerated by campus authorities). It's interesting to note that when the final act plays out, Anthony Edwards' character steps up from a paint gun all the way to a tranquilizer gun. Would the audiences of 1985 have been uncomfortable with real bullets on campus? Probably, but in a different way than today.