touch-and-go

Touch and Go (1986, Robert Mandel)

Save lead Michael Keaton, the Chicago location shooting and the technical competence, Touch and Go plays like an overlong sitcom pilot. Keaton’s a star hockey player who gets mugged by a gang of young “toughs,” including Ajay Naidu. Because he’s a nice guy, Keaton doesn’t turn Naidu into the cops, instead getting involved with him and his mother (played by Maria Conchita Alonso).

I used quotation marks for toughs because they’re a bunch of wimpy white teenagers in leather jackets. Unless you count Naidu, who’s the youngest. He’s the only one who doesn’t seem miscast in a high school play.

Inevitably, the film becomes the story of Keaton realizing he needs more in his life than hockey. But there’s a split between his story and Naidu and Alonso’s, which is occasionally excruciating because Alonso is so bad. Naidu isn’t great but he’s a lot better than Alonso.

Lara Jill Miller is a lot better than Alonso too and she’s only in it for two scenes. Everyone’s better than Alonso. Except those toughs.

But Touch and Go is rather well-produced. Robert Mandel’s direction is often fantastic. He really does make Keaton’s listlessness in success palpable. Sylvester Levay’s score is good too–except during the street tough scenes–and Richard H. Kline does an excellent job with the photography. There’s just nothing they can do about the plot.

With a different female lead–Alonso and Keaton have a negative amount of chemistry–the film might’ve overcome its problems. Even the thugs.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Robert Mandel; written by Alan Ormsby, Bob Sand and Harry Colomby; director of photography, Robert H. Kline; edited by Walt Mulconery; music by Sylvester Levay; production designer, Charles Rosen; produced by Stephen J. Friedman; released by Tri-Star Pictures.

Starring Michael Keaton (Bobby Barbato), Maria Conchita Alonso (Denise DeLeon), Ajay Naidu (Louis DeLeon), Max Wright (Lester), Maria Tucci (Dee Dee), Lara Jill Miller (Courtney), Richard Venture (Gower), John Reilly (Jerry Pepper), Michael Zelniker (McDonald), D.V. DeVincentis (Lupo), Dennis Duffy (Lynch), Steve Pink (Green) and Earl Boen (Emil the waiter).


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