Picks and Pans Review: The Best of Times

updated 02/24/1986 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/24/1986 01:00AM

Robin (Moscow on the Hudson) Williams and Kurt (Silkwood) Russell make such a likable team they obscure most of the excesses of this movie. They also make it almost forgivable that anyone would release a film about football at the only time of the year when one can rest up from all the blitzes, trap blocking and light-beer commercials. Williams plays a young bank executive who has never been able to live down the fact that he dropped a crucial pass in the Big Game of his high school career; Russell, who threw the pass, is better adjusted, though his wife is leaving him and his business is floundering (he paints designs on vans—e.g., Princess Di surrounded by sharks). When Williams arranges a rematch of the football game, it sets in motion a series of events that won't be unfamiliar to anyone who has seen The Longest Yard, M*A*S*H or The Bad News Bears. The game itself is flat, though the movie was written by Ron (Under Fire) Shelton, a former minor league baseball player who might have been expected to have a livelier sense of athletic drama and comedy. But Williams does such an engaging Everyman it's impossible not to root for him, and Russell plays straight man without being upstaged. The busy Pamela (Clan of the Cave Bear) Reed, as Russell's wife, and Holly (UnderFire) Palance, as Williams', are appealing too. Football widows will understand Palance's dictum that under no circumstances will the words "Dick Butkus" be allowed at the dinner table. Margaret (Love Child) Whitton adds a nice bit as the massage parlor hussy who gives Williams the idea for replaying the game. Things too often get silly without being compensatingly funny, but there is a kind of neo-Capra charm to the fantasy of being able to do something about those daydreams that start off, "If only I had...." (PG-13)

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