Retro Review: Gotcha! (1985)

If it’s eleven o’clock at night. You are three to six beers in then you might wanna look up a movie called ‘Gotcha!’.

It won’t win any awards but it is for sure a guilty pleasure.

Why you might say? Well, let me explain.

In the heart of the Cold War, America loved spy and espionage pictures. So Dan Gordon, the screenwriter for such underrated fare as 1984’s Tank and the David Keith starrer Gulag, dreamt up a concept that would put you typical college guy into the world of spies.

Think “Agent Cody Banks” but older or that Richard Grieco movie “If Looks Could Kill” except less cheesy. Gotcha predates both films.

To get this unlikely college guy into the spy world he thought about an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse that college kids play on the campus with paint pellet guns.

The movie also came out around the emergence of the  laser tag community in the mid-80s.

So the kid would be a super paint pellet guy on campus but get swept up into a real spy game.

Gordon took his concept and teamed up with director Jeff Kanew who had just come off the hit “Revenge of the Nerds” which co-starred some unlikely heroes on a college campus. One of those heroes was Anthony Edwards. He reteamed with Kanew for Gordon’s spy movie “Gotcha!”.

I would imagine the subplot about Anthony Edwards character needing to get laid came from Kanew. Tell me if I am wrong.

The movie finds Edwards playing Jonathan, a college kid who while vacationing in Paris falls for a beautiful foreign seductress Sasha (Linda Fiorentino).

Sasha pulls Jonathan into a web of lies and he just goes for the ride until it gets ugly.

Gotcha was Fiorentino’s second of three movie she got released in 1985 including her feature debut with Vision Quest where she once again seduces a very innocent looking guy except that time it was a very daft Matthew Modine. In all her films, Fiorentino feels older than the character she plays on the screen. That hidden wisdom makes her characters stronger and really helps with her chemistry with all-American boys like Modine and Edwards.

Why it is such a guilty pleasure for me? Well, first of all anything with Linda Fiorentino is worth watching. For me her great achievement as an actress is still 1994’s ‘The Last Seduction’. This woman knows how to milk every ounce of her talent and she does that in spades in that film. This is the same when she was given hokey scripts like Gotcha and Vision Quest. The woman knows how to chew scenery and overshadow her co-stars with the bat of an eyelash.

Back to the movie, Gotcha overcomes the cheese factor because it has an interesting premise. The movie is fun even with all it’s flaws and a really catchy and laughable main theme. It is still ringing in my head. But I do wish however things that were left open would have been explained more.

Like what at the rules of Gotcha? Is it like the last player alive wins? Or it is like based on points or number of kills? How many players are there? Why do some students know what is going on and some don’t? Why does the snobby blonde not think the game is cool if so many guys on campus are playing?

Who was Sasha talking to on the phone in Germany? And why in a foreign language? If you have seen the end then this scene makes no sense.

The CIA guy is pretty grabby of Sasha, what is their real relationship?

Would Jonathan ever give Sasha another chance? She’d be a great way to irritate his parents more.

This movie is begging to be remade. But I would expand into what the game of Gotcha is really all about. Then after the hero is actually seduced into the world, see what violence really is. The romp becomes a thriller and then comes back to a romp. Intensify and make the hero more of a hero then some dumb schmuck. Maybe have the hero get caught up in drug smuggling vs. old world espionage. I’d also make the seductress into an older woman. (Casting idea: Taylor Lautner & Monica Bellucci) There is lots of play with here but would love to see the film updated.

3.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

One thought on “Retro Review: Gotcha! (1985)

  1. Anthony Edwards with a full head of hair…:) There was an NES video game called Gotcha! Any relation?

    Good to have you back in the land of the reviewing, BTW.

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