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'Groover' Kevin Costner Also Danced in the Pre-Wolves Era

November 22, 1990|GUILLERMO TORRES

Long before Kevin Costner danced with wolves, the then-unknown actor did a fancy fandango on the silver screen.

The critics panned the whimsical "Fandango"--a 1985 release in which Costner (whose "Dances With Wolves" is currently turning some of those same heads) had one of his first big roles--because, as one said, the movie goes nowhere.

But hold on, pardner. Who says a movie has to go anywhere?

The setting is Austin, Tex., 1971. The Groovers, a motley group of five university students, celebrate graduation night. Two have been drafted and a third is off to the Vietnam War (he hopes).

At the party the group decides to go off to the West Texas wilderness, where they will drink, seek romance and, in a rite of passage, dig up the mysterious "Dom" on the Texas-Mexican border.

Costner plays Gardner Barnes, the flip but somewhat sentimental leader of the Groovers. His plan is to flee to Mexico and take along Waggener (played by Sam Robards) to escape the draft. Judd Nelson plays the militaristic and argumentative Phil, who can't wait to show his manhood in Vietnam. The two other Groovers are played by Chuck Bush and Brian Cesak.

The movie's soundtrack of late '60s tunes and several Pat Metheny gems adds a charming cadence to the film. Metheny's beautiful "September 15," an ode to jazz great Bill Evans, and "It's for You," (both from the Wichita Falls album) segue into a dreamy wedding scene in which Costner does a Texas-style fandango with co-star Suzy Amis.

Writer-director Kevin Reynolds, a protege of Steven Spielberg, puts enough adventurous twists and turns in "Fandango" to keep the viewer entranced. The highway scene, to the tune of Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," and the cemetery scene, in which Waggener and Gardner discuss going to war, are well worth the price of the video rental.

"Fandango" (1985), directed by Kevin Reynolds, 91 minutes. Rated PG.

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