Fandango emerges as a quite promising feature debut by writer-director Kevin Reynolds, with its feet squarely within the overused boys-coming-of-age genre but its heart betraying an appealingly anarchic, iconoclastic bent.
Pic is an elaboration upon Proof, a 22-minute picture Reynolds made at the USC Cinema School. Set in 1971, when the Vietnam War and the draft were still looming factors in students’ lives, tale describes the final wild fling, or fandango, of five college roommates in Texas before splitting up to face the dreaded realities of the world at large.
Kevin Costner plays the ringleader, a reckless but knowing adventurer who has extended his college stay by three years. Judd Nelson is the outcast of the group by virtue of his involvement in ROTC, Sam Robards has drunkenly called off his wedding to Costner’s former flame at the last moment, Chuck Bush is a hulking, silent giant given to reading Jean-Paul Sartre and Kahlil Gibran, while Brian Cesak remains a drunken package just along for the ride.
Despite the mildly rueful tone, pic’s highlight is the comic mid-section dominated by hippie pilot and certifiable space cadet Marvin J. McIntyre. Costner, who previously starred in Stacey’s Knights but was a cutting room floor casualty in both The Big Chill and Frances, is a dynamic presence at the film’s center.