Gotcha! (1985) / Action-Comedy

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for brief nudity, sexual references, violence, and language
Running Time: 101 min.

Cast: Anthony Edwards, Linda Fiorentino, Nick Corri (Jsu Garcia), Klaus Lowitsch, Alex Rocco, Marla Adams
Director: Jeff Kanew
Screenplay: Dan Gordon
Review published January 12, 2006

Fun in parts, Gotcha! Is a better film than youíd think from outward appearances, although it is eventually undone by the very clichťs that it seeks to poke fun at.  At its core, this is a spoof of Hitchcockian-tinged spy yarns, for the teenage crowd, with a typically mid-80s adolescent quest to get laid in between the intrigue and murder elements. 

The MacGuffin here is a roll of film that ends up in the possession of Jonathan Moore (Edwards, The Sure Thing), an 18-year-old freshman in college out to sow some wild oats in Europe while on his vacation.  Planting it is his possession is a sexy Czech courier named Sasha (Fiorentino, Men in Black), who romances the young lad, eventually dragging him along for an excursion behind the Berlin Wall into East German in order to make her pickup.  Meanwhile, some murderous Russians are hot on their trail, willing to do anything to snatch the package for themselves.  Jonathan soon finds himself way over his head, both in love and in danger, and must somehow find his way to the comforts of home before he ends up the next victim.

Gotcha! is fluffy teenage fare, merging teen comedy with standard thriller plotting to come up with an interesting new hybrid, developed later by similar films like If Looks Could Kill.  Anthony Edwards does a good job shedding his Revenge of the Nerds image to be an appealing leading man, reuniting with Nerds director Jeff Kanew, although the role didnít exactly make him the heartthrob poster boy that the producers of this film probably sought to make him. 

The title refers to the name of a game played out on Jonathanís college campus, whereby participants stroll around with paintball guns in an elimination game of sorts.  Itís not quite clear what the rules or the aim of the contest is, merely used here as a device to explain the obvious developments late in the film which sees Jonathan toting around a gun to defend himself from the Russians.  Itís very predictable, which is the movieís Achilles Heel, as it follows familiar patterns and contrived plotting to get to its ultimate destination.

As likeable as the film is for long periods of time, the darker elements are explored too long during the scenes in East Germany, which does tend to undermine the light and cheeky nature of the set-up.  Itís not poorly made, but without any major laughs, the routine spy elements bog down the momentum, and by the time things pick up again, the film as a whole had already dissolved into mediocre fare.

Gotcha! is primarily recommended primarily for 1980s enthusiasts, fans of Edwards or Fiorentino, and viewers just looking for some modest escapist fare; itís a waste of time for everyone else. 

Qwipster's rating:

©2006 Vince Leo