Retro Review: Vision Quest (1985)

Okay, I am continuing with my fascination with Linda Fiorentino. And it is also Valentine’s Day!

Rediscovering Vision Quest was like looking at an old yearbook and seeing the picture of an old crush. And that made me smile.

Vision Quest marked the debut of Linda Fiorentino into Hollywood. This coming-of-age story about a high school wrestler (Matthew Modine) determined to win on a new more competitive weight class.

It was a solid hit back in 1985 and could probably be classified in the Footloose or Flashdance category but instead of dancing you have a sports.

If you really think about it Footloose and Flashdance are underdog sports movies at the core.

The movie is also significant because the unknown cast that made up this film. You have Oscar winner Forest Whitaker in his first movie post Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Madonna just before the acting bug bit with Desperate Seeking Susan. Daphne Zuniga in her first movie just before a Sure Thing. Plus star Matthew Modine’s first movie after Birdy and his next movie would be Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. And for good measure you also have character actors like Ronny Cox, James Gammon and Raphael Sbarge.

The movie was very solid and at its center was the birth of Linda Fiorentino. It was an incredible debut.

The tough, sexy girl with a hidden past that she would become known for all started here.

In Vision Quest, she plays Carla, a tough Jersey girl who is driving to California to become an artist until her car breaks down in the small town where Modine’s character and his dad (Cox) take her in until her car is fixed.

I have never been a huge Matthew Modine fan but watching Vision Quest I was reminded back to why I used to like the guy. It’s kinda like rewatching Beverly Hills Cop to remind you of why Eddie Murphy is a star and Risky Business the same way for Tom Cruise.

Fiorentino kind of falls into that category as the strong actress that wowed audiences and then slipped away. Like say a Lori Singer from Footloose, Jennifer Grey from Dirty Dancing and Jennifer Beals from Flashdance. Singer and Grey have all but disappeared but Beals found her second wind with the cable series “The L Word”.

The movie made stars of both Modine and Fiorentino and also marked the first film for the teaming of super producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber, who in 1989 would produce Batman one of the biggest Hollywood films of all time.

Also this is the only film where you have Material Girl-era Madonna playing with her band in a nightclub while the two main characters fall in love to “Crazy For You”. You can’t get more 80s than that. Oh and as a footnote, you also get 80s Madonna music and you aren’t subjected to her acting as part of it.

Vision Quest is a shameless 80s movie but we all love it not for just its incredible 80s score but for just the pure cheese. This is a feel good film through and through. But it is also smart and well executed.

I think one of the things that makes this film so different than other 80s movies of this same caliber is how it ends. There is no wrap it up with a bow. I think the ending is perfect. The movie is a cult classic for a reason.

4 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

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