All the Right Moves (1983) starring Tom Cruise, Craig T. Nelson, Lea Thompson, Charles Cioffi, Gary Graham, Paul Carafotes, Chris Penn, Sandy Faison directed by Michael Chapman Movie Review

All the Right Moves (1983)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Lea Thompson and Tom Cruise in All the Right Moves (1983)

Cruise's Right Movie

In a small Western Pennsylvania steel town lives Stefen Djordjevic (Tom Cruise - Risky Business) a high school student who desperately wants to get out and go to college to study engineering. The only trouble is that Stefan isn't academically gifted and his only chance to escape the town where he would end up working in the steel mill like everyone else is to gain a football scholarship. Stefen is not the only one who wants out as the coach Nickerson (Craig T. Nelson - Poltergeist) also wants to get to college or at least a coaching position at a college. But it leads to a clash which could destroy Stefen's dream of escaping the small town.

Every once in a while I stumble across a question on the internet asking what the best Tom Cruise movie is and most of the answers mention his more recent movies which are dominated by action. But for me the best Cruise movies came early on in his career before he became the big star and started playing characters dominated by ego and one of the best is "All the Right Moves". Oh there is some early Cruise ego on show but there is more than just the smile and charisma, there is a young actor trying to show he can act, that he can play sensitive and trouble and it works. Tom Cruise is a huge reason why "All the Right Moves" works as are the supporting cast with Lea Thompson doing a wonderful job of playing his girlfriend whilst Craig T. Nelson gets to play it large as the bullying coach Nickerson.

Craig T. Nelson in All the Right Moves (1983)

But there is also the storyline which manages to do a fantastic job of exploring teenage insecurities, of being decent but doing bad, of dealing with relationships and being apart, whilst also dealing with hopes and dreams but also disappointments.

Having said that with this being a football based movie there are elements to "All the Right Moves" which are a little familiar. Not only that watching it now over 30 years after it was released it would be fair to say that "All the Right Moves" is dated. There is the music, clothes and hair but also some humour which is extremely typical of early 80s teen movies. And there is some terrible early Tom Cruise dancing, in fact the dancing in the locker scene early on in the movie is embarrassingly bad.

What this all boils down to is that "All the Right Moves" is a very good early 80s teen drama which whilst about football is also about teen life, the hopes, dreams and disappointments which are all part of growing up.