Summer of Sports Films: Vision Quest

Vision Quest illustration by Jeff Schwartzbauer

Vision Quest – 1985

Dir: Harold Becker | Starring: Matthew Modine, Linda Fiorentino, Michael Schoeffling, Special Appearance by Madonna

Sport: High School Wrestling

Review: Louden Swain has just turned 18 during his senior year of high school – time to make an impact! Lots of kids are focusing on getting through as quickly and easily as possible, others are focusing on their college plans (which he is too, but changes them every 20 minutes of the film), and others are hoping for their one last chance at a State Championship. Louden doesn’t care about some State Championship, he doesn’t even care about the team, he just cares about going down as the best and the best needs to go through one man … SHUTE. Only one hitch in this plan; Shute is two weight classes below Louden. Its training time: all day, all night, at work, on the way home, if you are awake you are burning off your 600 calorie diet and then some. Nothing can blur his focus, well, except for a girl. And not just any girl, a full on adult woman he and his father allow to move into their home (she’s essentially homeless) after her car breaks down and Louden’s father beats up the car salesman who sold her the lemon (the man is also his boss). How can a dude keep the heat when a slick fox is sleeping in your own bed? Its tough, but with the help of friends like Kuch and Elmo (the names in this movie are nonsense) he’ll have the support he needs to take on a giant (of Spokane wrestling)!

This is pretty standard 80’s high school sports film fare except its focused on a more non-traditional sport. So your typical montages of shooting drills and high-stepping through tires is replaced with lots and lots of running in a rubber suit, climbing a peg wall, and bizarre wrestling exercises where you do sit ups on another guys back or crawling with your legs limp. The love interest plays equal time as the wrestling and its fairly strange considering you never get a good idea of how much older she is than Louden, but shes easily in her late 20’s and he’s 18 and still in high school, and the path to their partnership is plotted fairly clumsily and they suddenly bork and there you go. It should match the drama leading up for the battle between Louden and Shute but it falls very short. If there is anything else that competes for presence in the film between Love & Wrestling its the song “Lunatic Fringe” by Red Rider. Its played constantly through out the film any time Louden is training or in some sort of intense situation. Different portions of the song are queued depending on the situation – they really wring the song pretty dry of its cinematic potential. I don’t recall ever seeing it on TV myself, but this seems primed for Saturday afternoon basic cable. I would say its a good choice for a film to catch a nap too, but you’ll get woken up by a few too many “LUUUUUNATIC FRIIIIINGE!”‘s to catch many z’s.

This trailer does a good job of ignoring 50% of the films plot:

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