Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vision Quest


This was originally going to be a Flashback Friday post, but since President Obama's State of the Union Address is tonight and I don't have anything to post for today, I moved this one up and will comment on Obama's State of the Union Address for Friday's post. It should be much more interesting to watch than President Bush's, whose smirks, winking, and eyebrow twitching used to aggravate the heck out of me. The reason Bush's facial ticks bothered me is because of when they occur. He would squint his eye to convey sincerity whenever his mouth was spilling a whopper of a lie and his smirk revealed that he knew he was lying and couldn't believe he was getting away with it. Now it's conservatives who are driven crazy by Obama's speaking style. It'll be interesting to watch. I hope health care reform will be passed soon so that Obama can shift his attention to the economy and job creation. That has to be the next priority for our country.

Anyhow, on to the regularly scheduled post.

Recently, I watched Vision Quest for the first time. My only previous knowledge of this film was that it featured a scene with Madonna singing her single "Crazy For You" at a bar. That song was a huge hit from my seventh grade year. In fact, when I think about my seventh grade year, there are four Madonna singles that can bring me back to those days: "Crazy For You", "Material Girl", "Angel", and "Into the Groove."

Its interesting watching an 80s film for the first time when you're an adult. Last year, I finally saw The Goonies for the first time and I was disappointed. You're probably wondering what an 80s kid like me was doing to miss The Goonies, right? Well...I didn't see movies unless my parents took me and I didn't rent movies, so I watched whatever films my parents wanted to see and The Goonies never appealed to them. Its definitely a kid's film. Sometimes I wonder if I would have liked Ghostbusters as much if I hadn't seen it until I was an adult. The nostalgia factor counts for a lot.

My desire to see Vision Quest recently came about because of something my father had said to me in 2006. He said that I should go on a "vision quest." I'm not too familiar with this concept, beyond the fact that its considered a rite of passage in Native American culture and has become somewhat popular among New Age spiritualists. I even looked online and found an interesting company that offers vision quests at reasonable rates (less than $1,000 for a 10-12 day experience), including one in Death Valley, California. That's going on my life's dream sheet / vision board. Maybe this is all part of some mid-life crisis I'm going through, but going on a vision quest in Death Valley sounds pretty good right about now. According to those who have this experience, the combination of being out in nature alone and fasting is supposed to give you a vision of your life's purpose. One could say that Jesus' forty day sojourn in the desert, where he faced Satan's three temptations, was a vision quest.

Anyhow, since I can't afford to go on a vision quest offered through a spiritual travel group, I thought maybe the movie Vision Quest might have some insight. Boy was I wrong! What is that movie about? Well, Matthew Modine plays a high school senior who is on the wrestling team and has the crazy idea that he wants to drop two weight categories below his in order to compete against the undefeated champion of a rival school. A movie about high school wrestling? Seriously? I was prepared to be bored (I hated that section of gym class in junior high). However, it was far more interesting than I thought it would be, even if the references to the Native American "vision quest" is superficial at best. Watching this movie is like a time machine back to my junior high school days. The film was released in theaters in 1985, so the clothing and hair styles are very current for that year (so many guys had their hair parted in the middle, which I hated then and now. I never had mine parted in the middle because I thought it looked dumb).

The biggest surprise of the movie was how horrible Madonna actually sings live. I had heard many people say that she doesn't have a good singing voice, that its all disguised by technology. Considering that the version that plays in the film is not the same one that was played on the radio, I have to agree. I do not like the film version of "Crazy For You" at all. The film has a very 80s soundtrack, though, featuring songs by Foreigner, Journey, Sammy Hagar, John Waite, and Don Henley. My guess is that they were trying to replicate the soundtrack success of Footloose, which came out in 1984, but lacked the right mix of songs. Its still a good representation of what was popular in 1985 and definitely helped "transport" me back twenty-five years. I appreciated the unexpected nostalgia trip this film offered.

There were some cool scenes in the film, particularly the neat exercises the wrestling team does during practices. The love story angle was kind of lame, though. It was good to see parts of Spokane WA in a film, as I don't recall ever seeing a movie set there. This movie is part of that 80s trend of high school geeks finding themselves in various sports (The Karate Kid, Teen Wolf, and countless Football movies), and getting the girl because of it.

Not a bad film, but if I had to change anything, it would be the title. To call Modine's goal a "vision quest" is a big stretch. Maybe someday, Hollywood will be smart and make a film about a true vision quest...one that doesn't involve sports, mysterious older women, or Madonna. Until then, this film is like a living yearbook for those of us who were teenagers during the mid-1980s. Where did those years go?


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