The 1985 comedy-drama film Fandango deserves to find a home on a streaming platform. Directed by Kevin Reynolds, the movie stars Kevin Costner as Gardner Barnes, Judd Nelson as Phil Hicks, Sam Robards as Kenneth Waggener, Chuck Bush as Dorman, Brian Cesak as Lester Griffin, and Marvin J. McIntyre as Truman Sparks.
When Kenneth reveals that his student deferment has expired and he’s being drafted into the Vietnam War, the Groovers decide to go on a road trip to visit a notorious roadhouse and uncover someone or something named Dom near the Rio Grande.
Set in 1971, Fandango begins at the University of Texas in Austin. The story focuses on Gardner Barnes (Kevin Costner) and his friend group called the Groovers, which include the newly engaged Kenneth Waggener, ROTC enthusiast Phil Hicks, and Lester, who remains unconscious for most of the story. They also add Dorman, a seminary student, to the mix.
When Kenneth reveals that his student deferment has expired and he’s being drafted into the Vietnam War, the Groovers decide to go on a road trip to visit a notorious roadhouse and uncover someone or something named Dom near the Rio Grande. Gardner (Kevin Costner), who had already received his draft notice, is filled with mixed feelings about the trip.
Their journey unfolds in a series of unpredictable events. The Groovers drive through the night, determined to reach their destination. Phil’s car runs out of gas, prompting a debate on whether to continue on foot or hitchhike. In a moment of inspired madness, they decide to lasso a passing train, severely damaging the car.
Fandango is more than just a road trip movie. It’s a story about self-discovery, growth, and the enduring bonds of friendship.
As the journey progresses, tensions rise. Phil contemplates going back, leading to an outburst from Kenneth. Gardner’s (Kevin Costner) confession that they only included Phil out of pity further fuels the conflict. Humiliated, Phil decides to prove himself by accepting a challenge, which provides a moment of comic relief to the story.
The film’s climax takes place near the Mexican border, where the Groovers face the uncertainty of the future and say their goodbyes to Gardner (Kevin Costner). Fandango is more than just a road trip movie. It’s a story about self-discovery, growth, and the enduring bonds of friendship. Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, it captures the essence of youth and the pursuit of freedom.
Although Fandango has become a cult classic, the Kevin Costner movie was not a major box office success during its initial release. It had a limited theatrical run and only earned around $92,000 at the box office. The reception from critics was mixed. Some praised its quirky charm and character development, while others found it uneven in tone.
Fandango is best known for launching Kevin Costner’s acting career. The actor and film director Kevin Reynolds later collaborated on the successful film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, released in 1991. Although that movie didn’t do much for Costner’s career, it earned more than $390 million at the global box office, making it the second-highest-grossing film of that year.
Steven Spielberg, who had come across a copy of Proof, expressed interest in producing a project based on it, which eventually evolved into Fandango.
Fandango, starring Kevin Costner, has an intriguing origin story. It originally began as a student film called Proof, which Kevin Reynolds created during his time at the University of Southern California film school. Its initial premise was a satirical take on Greek life at Reynolds’ alma mater, Baylor University.
However, due to concerns related to his father’s position as President at Baylor, Reynolds opted not to portray the Baptist institution in an unfavorable manner. So, he changed the setting of the Kevin Costner-led film to the University of Texas. This allowed him to maintain a humorous perspective on college life without causing any harm to Baylor University’s reputation.
The title Fandango refers to a Spanish dance and is used metaphorically in the Kevin Costner film to represent the characters’ journey and the unpredictable twists of life. The film also features an iconic scene where the characters go skydiving without proper training, which has become one of the movie’s memorable moments.
The scene is an exact replication of a sequence from Reynolds’ thesis film. Even more intriguing is that Steven Spielberg, who had come across a copy of Proof, expressed interest in producing a project based on it, which eventually evolved into Fandango. The aerial sequences were captured with the assistance of the Commemorative Air Force, which had its main headquarters in Texas.
Despite his involvement in the Kevin Costner film, Steven Spielberg was reportedly disappointed with the final product. Nonetheless, his production company, Amblin Entertainment, remains credited.