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film reel image

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The Best of Times 1986 * * * Stars


Yup, the Super Bowl has ended and I still just can't get enough football. What do I do? Well I decide to watch a hidden 80s nugget called The Best of Times. No not that top ten ditty from the band Styx, we're talking cinema here, Kurt Russell and Robin Williams as middle-aged dudes trying to get their gridiron on over a decade later. "Play the game again." Indeed. 

So yeah, The Best of Times was released in 1986 with little marketing and uh, little fanfare (no pun intended). It was a box office flop in its day, panned by critics who deemed it annoying and utterly predictable. Then there was the fact that "Times" came out in the doldrums of January with cheap-looking cinematography and an unwashed look. I mean it almost felt like I was viewing Tom Cruise's All the Right Moves on uppers (that's because there's a comedic element to it). Whatever. The Best of Times for me is compulsively watchable (I've seen it at least two dozen times). Maybe it's the nostalgia, maybe it's the wistfulness, maybe it's the fact that a sport with a spiraling pigskin will always be etched in my effigy. Who knows.

As a film chronicling two townies in Kern County, California who decide to replay a high school game they lost 13 years ago, "Times" plays as a sad sack, comedy drama about spousal relationships, getting the team back together, and blundering, underdog redemption. The whole thing culminates in an exciting, final football contest that's shot well by director Roger Spottiswoode (who would later go on to helm James Bond and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies). The humor is dry here, the characters are either moody or quirky buffoons (especially Williams as banker turned wide receiver Jack Dundee), and the field is morbidly turbid. If you're grieving the end of the NFL season and need to get that red zone fix, go on YouTube or order on Amazon. That's probably the only way to clap eyes on The Best of Times. All for the "best".

Written by Jesse Burleson   

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