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Retro-review: 1985's 'American Flyers'




TODAY'S REVIEW: It's usually going to be a good day when you wake up early on a Tuesday and American Flyers is unexpectedly playing on a pay-cable channel. Kevin Costner and David Marshall Grant (Air America, Strictly Business) star in probably the second-greatest movie about biking. (Breaking Away anyone?) John Badham directed the 1985 flick.

THE PLOT: A sports physician (Costner) who's feuding with his mother persuades his younger brother (Grant) to come with him and train for a bicycle race across the Rocky Mountains.

MAYBE YOU REMEMBER: Comedian Robert Townsend has a small, non-comic role as a biker for the competing 7-Eleven team, led by the villainous Muzzin (played by Luca Bercovici). John Amos co-stars as the lead of the sports health institute and friend of Costner. Even Jennifer Grey has a small, ditzy role as a blind date for Grant.

SURELY YOU CAN'T FORGET: Rae Dawn Chong plays the girlfriend of Costner, one of four movies she appeared in during 1985 (Commando, The Color Purple, Badge of the Assassin). Still, 1984 was even busier; she appeared in five movies that year.

THE SOUNDTRACK: ZZ Top's Dirty Dog and Chris Isaak's Gone Ridin' are two highlights. Glenn Shorrock performed the theme song American Flyers.

WHAT CRITICS SAID: "The bicycle race is brilliantly photographed and very exciting, despite the fact that we can easily guess who will win. But American Flyers is shaky at the core, because it tries to tap-dance around its own central issues." -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

WHY WE LOVE IT ANYWAY: I'm not going to lie to you. A lot of it has to do with the punky hitchhiker Becky, played by Alexandra Paul (Dragnet, Christine). Her "pass the jersey" topless scene makes me sweat more than all the bike riders in the movie combined. And yes, though the ending is predictable, sometimes you just need the comfort of knowing that a happy ending (no pun intended) is just 90 minutes away.


5. "Enough of this Sunday stroll. Let's hurt a little bit."

4. "I was in the best shape of my life in the summer of 1980 and I got beat by opinions."

3. "I never thought it was true love between us, but I did think it was true sex."

2. "Well I'll be a fig newton."

1. "How can you be sick? You have a moustache."

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 7:18am]


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