- The soon-to-be Hollywood superstar plays a high school cornerback desperate to escape his dying steeltown. Will coach Craig T. Nelson undermine his dreams? Can girlfriend Lea Thompson heal his scarred soul—and get out with him? Can Ampipe, Pa., survive the struggling economy? Is this a bad or good football movie? Our staff weighs in on an early Cruise classic.
When you watch enough football movies (like we have this summer), a lot of familiar movements emerge. There is the challenge of balancing the game action with all of the character arcs. There is the stumbling through a romantic subplot that ultimately shows a far more accomplished and emotionally mature female character lessening herself to heal the hardscrabble athlete unable to cope with life off the field. There is the largely terrible live game action, a challenge that few directors have been able to solve.
The weird thing about All The Right Moves is that it fits into the cookie-cutter football movie category, but it also doesn’t. There is a beautiful grit to the on-location filming in Johnstown, Pa., standing in for the fictional steel town of Ampipe. The way in which the movie conveys the story of the emotionally drained and directionless out-of-work steelworkers is authentic. Tom Cruise could pass for a high school football player because, at the suggestion of his director, he went back to high school and listened to how utterly crass and freewheeling kids just a little younger than him were (he was 21 when the movie was released). And the live game action was … good!
In this week’s episode, our panel of experts was split on the 1983 Cruise classic. Was it just another typical Bad Football Movie? Or was it a film that contained football but ultimately transcended the genre? Dive in with us, crack open a beer (or canned rosé!) and listen to us break down All The Right Moves.
Check out our Bad (or Maybe Good!) Football Movies series, plus the rest of The MMQB’s NFL podcasts, on iTunes or wherever you download your podcasts.
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