Fandango (1985)

2017 #22
Kevin Reynolds | 91 mins | streaming (HD) | 16:9 | USA / English | 15 / PG


In this coming-of-age comedy drama, pitched as “celebrating the privilege of youth”, a group of college buddies — two of whom are about to be drafted into Vietnam — go on a final road trip to celebrate their graduation and defer the impending seriousness of adulthood.

Fandango began life as a student short made by writer-director Kevin Reynolds that just featured the skydiving sequence. That was seen by, of all people, Steven Spielberg, who liked it enough that he gave Reynolds the money to develop a feature film around the idea. But when he saw the finished result, Spielberg distanced himself from it — he even had his name taken off the credits. No idea why — it’s a super movie. If we’re being picky then its structure is a little episodic, but the scrapes the gang get into are linked by arcs that chart their characters’ development, which is where the film has its heart. It’s also resplendent with nice little touches, like well-composed shots (for a first timer, Reynolds clearly knew what he was doing), poignant character moments, and some occasionally profound dialogue, too. A sequence that sees the guys fighting with fireworks in a graveyard, foreshadowing the war several of them are about to head off to, is a particular standout.

Boys will be boys

Kevin Costner, tearing through Texas as a free-spirited college flunk-out wearing one-armed sunglasses, an increasingly grubby tailcoat, and a shit-eating grin, has never seemed cooler. That almost masks the fact that it’s also a very good performance, actually. It might’ve been forgotten under some of the blockbusters he did, and some of the crap in more recent years, but the guy can act. The lead cast surrounding him is equally as likeable — it genuinely feels like hanging out with a ragtag gang of college mates on their last hurrah. The final act stretches credibility pretty darn thin with what those guys are able to pull off, but it’s nonetheless a suitably emotive finale.

I’d never even heard of Fandango until the ghost of 82 recommended it to me last year, which is possibly the end result of Spielberg having disowned it. The history of cinema is no doubt littered with these little gems that, for whatever reason, only resonated with some people at the time. One of the real benefits of the blogging era is that we can recommend them on.

4 out of 5

5 thoughts on “Fandango (1985)

  1. Glad you liked it. It really had had impact on me when I first saw it years ago on TV (even then probably due to the Kevin Costner connection, after Field of Dreams etc rather than praise for the film itself). It’s a great little movie. Wish Arrow would do a bluray release, it’s worthy of that kind of attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess the slow disappearance of Reynolds’ career put paid to such a rediscovery. Though with some of the deep cuts Indicator put out, I’m not sure there’s anything they could release that would surprise me.


      • Well, whoever does it, let’s hope someone does. It definitely deserves a HD disc release with some TLC (although to be honest there’s a long list of films in that category- and time is possibly running out for physical releases).

        Liked by 1 person

        • Warner Archive Collection could easily release the film on Blu, though, lately they have been skimping on the special features. This movie is worthy of a commentary, and I’d bet the Groover’s wouldn’t be hard to round up along with Reynolds. I wish Arrow would pick it up, somebody, anybody, I’d pre-order today if it has commentary and a new scan.


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