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Film / The Best of Times

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The Best of Times is a 1986 American sports comedy film directed by Roger Spottiswoode, starring Robin Williams and Kurt Russell as two small-town losers and former high school football players who are haunted by their memories of losing (actually, tying) The Big Game to their hated rival fourteen years earlier.

Reno Hightower (Russell) was the stud QB who gave Taft High their first-ever shot at beating the hated Bakersfield team in 1972. Jack Dundee (Williams) was the scrawny receiver who dropped a touchdown pass that would have given them the win, forcing them to settle for a tie. Years later, Jack is still haunted by the memory of his fumble every day— and is constantly reminded of it by his bullying, Bakersfield-supporting father-in-law. Meanwhile, Reno's personal life is a mess but he continues to relish his local legend, which keeps getting bigger as time passes. Determined that the only way he'll ever exorcise his demons is to have a rematch with Bakersfield, Jack gets creative and coaxes everyone into a rematch fifteen years later.

The Best of Times provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Big Game: The climax is the rematch of Taft vs. Bakersfield.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Every matchup between Taft and Bakersfield except for the one where Reno was the Quarterback and Jack dropped the ball resulting in a tie.
  • Dying Town: Taft is seen as one, sadly a bit of Truth in Television.
  • False Flag Operation: Jack disguises himself as the Bakersfield Mascot and vandalizes the town to make the other residents angry so theyíll agree to play the game. At the end though he intentionally lets Reno discover the outfit so heíll know it was him.
  • Glory Days: Reno continues to bask in the glow of his high school heroics.
  • Jaded Washout: Played with. Reno knows he wasnít as good as his legend, but also knows itís all he has to hang on to. His adult life is a mess.
  • Jerk Jock: Reno, however heís not the standard bully seen in most examples, rather heís just blunt with his teammates as a way of motivating them.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: None of the players went on to play in college or professionally. These are just normal guys who want another chance to play the Big Game.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Reno is well aware that his legend far exceeds his actual abilities, heís just the best player ever to come from their tiny town.
  • Opposing Sports Team: Mighty Bakersfield
  • The Reveal: At the end of the movie itís revealed that that the mysterious old man who makes a journey to see the game at the end is the boxer who came close to winning the title decades ago.