All the Right Moves

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
All the Right Moves Movie Poster Image
Early Cruise football film set in high school, but mature.
  • R
  • 2002
  • 93 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The film focuses on high school athletes in a working-class town who see a football scholarship as the only way escape from a dreary future. While this highlights the value of education, it also makes it seem like they have no other options, and that non-athletes have no chance at all to forge a better life.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Stefan has integrity and tries to stand up for what he thinks is right, but his outspoken tendencies get him in trouble.

Violence

Several people beat up a man in a bar, though the fight is quickly broken up. A gang trashes a man's car and the outside of his house.

Sex

Brief nudity when a teenage couple has sex, including bare breasts and a man's butt. Lots of suggestive talk, including discussions about whether girls will, or will not, agree to sleep with their boyfriends.

Language

Lots of swearing, including "s--t," "d--k," "p---y," "a--hole," and various iterations of the F-word.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

High schools students get drunk, at parties and on their own after a big disappointment. Older characters get drunk at bars and talk about their plans to get wasted.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this early '80s drama includes a teen sex scene with some nudity, as well as lots of suggestive conversations about sex. Teens and adults also drink and get drunk, and language ("f--k," "s--t," etc.) is plentiful. There's also a general sense that teens have very few career options.

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What's the story?

Stefan (Tom Cruise) is a talented high school football player who dreams of landing a scholarship so he can escape from his dreary Pennsylvania steel town. His dad works in the mill and so does his brother, but Stefan wants to be an engineer. The only thing standing in his way is his big mouth. When Stefan talks back to his coach (Craig T. Nelson), he gets cut from the team and his scholastic opportunities begin to dwindle.

Is it any good?

ALL THE RIGHT MOVES, released in 1983, shows its age. You can't blame Stefan for wanting a way out of his dead-end steel-mill town, but in this movie there's only one escape: a football scholarship. His girlfriend (Lea Thompson) laments that she's destined for a career as a grocery store clerk because only athletes (male athletes, that is) get scholarships and her family can't afford for her to go to school. Other teammates are equally single-minded -– get a free-ride to college or go work in the mill after graduation. And even then it's clear that steel is a dying industry and a poor career choice. There's never any mention that young people have plenty of options to live their own lives.

The story gets more and more depressing, until there's a surprising happy twist in the very last scene. It's not especially realistic, nor does it seem believable. It feels like a focus group said the original ending was too much of a bummer and they needed to shoot a new final scene. One saving grace is watching Tom Cruise in one of his early roles, showing the charisma that would make him a huge star. He outshines the story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Stefan's choices. Do you think he was right to challenge his coach? What was the result of his actions? Are the consequences portrayed in the movie realistic? How else could he have handled the problem?

  • How accurate is this movie when it comes to teens and sexual activity? What are parents' roles and responsibilities when it comes to teen and sex?

  • What options do Stefan and his friends have when it comes to careers? Is this a realistic portrayal of teen life in certain parts of the United States?

Movie details

For kids who love sports movies

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