A smash directorial debut by well-known cinematographer Michael Chapman, All the Right Moves crackles with authenticity. The story is centered on characters fighting to get out of a dying Pennsylvania mill town to make a better life for themselves.
In a nice twist on expectations, the driven include Tom Cruise’s girlfriend, sharply played by newcomer Lea Thompson, whose own aspirations take the frill out of the coed image, and the hard-nosed high school coach, superbly portrayed by Craig T. Nelson, who wants the big time as much as Cruise, his star safety.
Another welcome surprise is the touching relationship between high school senior Cruise and his father. For once, here’s a pop in a redneck town who treats his son like a human being, and Charles Cioffi, however brief his screentime, conveys a durable dignity.