- Movie Rating -

Touch and Go (1986)

| August 22, 1986

I saw Touch and Go in a theater on a lazy Wednesday night, a 200-seat auditorium that was occupied by maybe a dozen people, not including myself.  The rest of the population probably had the same fears that I did – the movie has proved to be a failure at the box office.  Having had the movie described to me it sounded like reconstituted sitcom stuff: An ice hockey pro is accosted by a group of local kids who intend to rob him.  The kids run off but the man catches the youngest kid and gives him a ride home.  The kid is a smart ass.  The man meets the kid’s mother.  They fall in love.

This sounds like a sitcom pilot so I settled in for the worst.  But it rises above those expectations.  Touch and Go is no masterpiece but it is certainly more than I expected.  It is a lot funnier, a lot more human and a lot more engaging than its bare bones plot would lead you to believe.  The other 12 or so people in the theater agreed.  We all laughed together.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

The next day I happened to bump into a man who worked distribution at TriStar Pictures (and who asked me not to mention his name).  He told me that the movie was having a difficult time because the studio has had doubts and has been dragging its feet about distributing the film around the country.  It opens here, it opens there but there is no real effort to really push the film.

That’s too bad because I really enjoyed this movie.  Michael Keaton has never been better.  He takes a standard role and gives it a great deal of dimension.  He’s not just an actor playing a guy with a career label tacked on.  He’s an athlete who can see the end of his career coming and he is forced to evaluate where he is going to be several years from now.

The always engaging Maria Conchita-Alonzo is wonderfully funny as the mother who has a worldly-wise knowledge and challenges Keaton on his career choices.  And the young boy Ajay Naidu is not just a smart-mouthed kid but is human enough that you sense him as a person, not just a collection of wisecracks.

I liked these characters.  I liked what they stood for.  I liked the real humanity in them.  So, then I wondered why the movie needed a villain.  The movie comes down to an old-fashioned confrontation between Keaton and the bad guy that looks like something about a bad cop show.  That subplot seemed unnecessary in a movie that has so much going for it, a movie in which the screenwriter really wanted to write about people not gimmicks.  Still, this is a better movie than I expected and one that I wish people would seek out.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1986) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy