- Movie Rating -

On the Right Track (1981)

| March 6, 1981

If I had a note for the people that made the Gary Coleman comedy On the Right Track, it might be to clear out the clutter, start with Gary and let his wisecracks run the show.  Here is a goodhearted comedy about a kid who makes an impact on several people in his immediate surroundings but it is so cluttered with supporting players, subplots, and issues that it kind of wears you out.  You just wish that the final draft of this script might have gone through a major housecleaning.

Gary stars as Lester, a cute orphan who lives in a train locker at Chicago’s Union Station – the fact that he lives in the locker is, I suppose, a dig at his diminutive size.  Within the confines of the train station, Lester has developed a community of friends who look after him, but he gets attention both wanted and unwanted when it is discovered that he can accurately pick the winners in the horse races.  Suddenly, Lester is the target of child protection authorities and hangers-on who want to profit from his special ability.

That’s the simple story, and I liked it.  But then the movie gets needlessly complicated as Lester draws the attention of the mayor, the mob, and all manner of interlopers who want a piece of the action.  I kept wishing that the movie would settle down, clear out the two-dozen needless characters and simply let the movie be about Lester’s life in that train station.  I didn’t need his connection with the mayor, nor his connection with two parental figures, nor his attempts to starts a shoeshine organization with other shoeshine boys in the station.  Just let the movie be about Gary and his world and you might have had a better and less bulky comedy.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1981) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized