In full cheese mode thanks to the various outings of the "Resident Evil" franchise? Ready for another helping of some aged cheddar – well then welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick! This week we’re going back to college via 1985, a simpler time with high hair, pop music and the ability to hunt a friend down on university grounds with a paint gun without campus security gunning for you. We’re talking about the quirky, fluffy and fromage ridden five-star comedy..."Gotcha!"
UCLA college student Jonathan Moore isn’t exactly a ladies man. His boyish looks and smell of desperation have led him down a path of seriously striking out with the ladies. But Jonathan is good at one thing – Gotcha. A game played by a group of college kids involving an assigned fake hit and namely catching the initiated off guard with a red paint bullet, Gotcha is where Jonathan is king – a James Bond of the fake weapon world. (Minus the Pussy Galore that is!) But it’s upon going to Paris and meeting strange and secretive Czechoslovakian woman Sasha Banicek that Jonathan gets a real lesson in guns and ammo…for real.
There are a lot of gamey twists and turns in "Gotcha!" that frankly should not work. But even as simply a guilty pleasure, the film has a ton of charm that cannot be denied. Helmed by "Revenge of the Nerds" alum Jeff Kanew, who knows how to milk the quaint out of even the most ridiculous of stories, there’s just so much to like. The performances by Anthony Edwards as the innocent Jonathan and lust de jour Linda Fiorentino as his object of obsession, the use of an inane tag gun game to catapult such a unique adventure and even how the film dares at times to take itself seriously. (The East Berlin – before the wall was taken down – bad guys are priceless!)
But I’d be lying if I didn't give most of the credit to Kanew, the only director with enough talent to make such a laughable story engaging. His hero is sweet, foreign gal captivating and the awkwardness and earnestness between them is where Kanew really comes to life. Plus there’s a slew of memorable side characters (unloving father Alec Rocco, Rosario “Jonathan no home” the maid and the “we love it” rock band!) that like the notable side nerds in Revenge just add a pinch more flavor to the kookie Kanew world.
There are also some very quotable lines (“You jumped into a moat...with my Nikon?”), cool scenes of "Gotcha!" gun play (love the shot from the roof above!) and an overall tone of all in good fun that is missing from fare that deals with the same types of subjects today. Maybe Kanew was a product of the 80’s or perhaps just one of a kind, but he had a firm handle on mediocre...and how to elevate it without dumbing it down. It’s as if he masked the affable with trite and then like a great 80’s Oz of sorts pulled back the curtain and said, ‘Gotcha!’ – direct hit Jeff.