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Gotcha! (1985) - Blather, Rinse, Repeat
August 21st, 2007
08:28 am

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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.

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From:ginsu
Date:August 21st, 2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
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I engaged in the game pictured at the beginning of the movie, except that instead of paintballs, small plastic disks were used.

This sounds like Killer from tenth grade (in my case), which involved assigned assassination attempts between classes or during lunch. My weapon of choice was a revolver that shot 5 rubber darts, and I actually won one of the money tournaments. I think the payoff was $25 or so.
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From:tsmaster
Date:August 21st, 2007 04:51 pm (UTC)
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we had two different games:

Patrol - I forget if this was some sort of capture the flag scenario, but we took over a campus building on a Saturday night and shot plastic disks at one another.

Circle of Death - this seemed similar to what was pictured in the movie - each person was given the name of another player as a target. You could "kill" your target by whatever means you liked (plastic disks or rubber darts simulating bullets, surreptitiously seasoning the target's food as "poison", vaseline their doorknob as some sort of contact poison). If you were successful, you took your target's assigned target and moved on. If you made an attack on your target, but failed, presumably they were able to shoot back, but I'm not sure how the circle was maintained - maybe you had to call in to the organizers. This was supposed to be done surreptitiously on campus, including a rule saying that if anybody witnessed an "assassination" attempt, it was unsuccessful.

The one time I played "Circle of Death", I was assigned the head of the club as my target, so I pretty much gave up immediately. Somebody came to my dorm room and shot me with a plastic disk, and that was the end of my game. Whee.
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From:rechercher
Date:August 23rd, 2007 09:53 pm (UTC)
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That was Anthony Edwards???? Dang! I actually remember seeing that thing in the movie theatre with my brother. Geez. I may need to watch it again (but I probably won't).
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From:tsmaster
Date:August 23rd, 2007 10:10 pm (UTC)
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That was Anthony Edwards???

Exactly my reaction. It's weird to see him as a college freshman (maybe) in "Gotcha!", and then a fighter pilot in "Top Gun" only a few years later.

I may need to watch it again

If you're in a body cast and can't reach the remote, there's worse things to watch. I wouldn't encourage you to go out of your way to see it, though.
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