All the Right Moves

Watch All the Right Moves

"He has everything at stake. He can't afford to lose. He's got to make all the right moves."
  • R
  • 1983
  • 1 hr 31 min
  • 6.0  (20,247)
  • 62

Set in the steel mill town of Ampipe, Pennsylvania, the 1983 film All the Right Moves follows star high school football player Stef Djordjevic (Tom Cruise) as he desperately tries to secure a college scholarship and escape his dead-end surroundings. Though he is undeniably talented on the field, Stef’s temper and recklessness often get him into trouble with his coach Nickerson (Craig T. Nelson), whose own aspirations for a college coaching job hang in the balance. Stef’s girlfriend, Lisa (Lea Thompson), also dreams of leaving Ampipe and encourages Stef to stay focused on his goal despite the many obstacles in their way.

As the town prepares for the big game against their rivals, Stef’s struggles on and off the field come to a head. His father, who works at the mill, discourages him from pursuing college and urges him to stay and work with him at the mill. Meanwhile, Coach Nickerson plays favorites and benches Stef for a key game, jeopardizing his chances of getting a scholarship. Stef’s anger and frustration boil over, and he makes a fateful decision that threatens to destroy all of his hopes and dreams.

All the Right Moves is both a coming-of-age story and a sports movie, with some elements of a social drama. Director Michael Chapman (known for his work as a cinematographer on iconic films like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull) employs a gritty, naturalistic visual style that reflects the harsh realities of working-class life in small-town America. The football scenes are shot with a visceral energy that captures the intensity and violence of the sport, while also emphasizing the physical toll it takes on the young players.

Tom Cruise gives a standout performance as Stef, displaying his trademark charisma while also channeling the character’s rage and desperation. Craig T. Nelson, in one of his earliest film roles, delivers a nuanced and layered portrayal of Coach Nickerson, whose motives are not always clear. Lea Thompson finds depth in her role as Lisa, a character who could have easily been relegated to the generic “supportive girlfriend” archetype.

One of the film’s most memorable aspects is its use of music, with a soundtrack that features songs by artists like Pat Benatar and Journey. The anthemic “All the Right Moves” by OneRepublic, which was inspired by the film, even shares its title with the movie. The music adds to the film’s sense of youthful rebellion and longing, as well as its themes of escape and self-discovery.

Despite its title, All the Right Moves is ultimately a cautionary tale about the dangers of ambition and pride. It highlights the limitations and injustices of the American Dream, especially for those who are born into poverty and lack the resources to achieve their goals. The film’s ending leaves some questions unanswered and suggests that not all happy endings are possible, making it a bittersweet but compelling watch.

At its core, All the Right Moves is a classic underdog story that resonates with audiences of all ages. It captures the challenges and triumphs of adolescence while also exposing the flaws and inequalities in America’s social and economic systems. In the end, the film encourages viewers to root for Stef and his peers as they strive to make their dreams a reality, even if their efforts may not always be rewarded.

All the Right Moves is a 1983 romance movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 31 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.0 and a MetaScore of 62.

All the Right Moves
Where to Watch All the Right Moves
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 31 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.0  (20,247)
  • Metascore