Movie Review:
The Best of Times 


The Best of Times (1986)

TITLE: The Best of Times

RELEASE DATE: January 31, 1986




Jack Dundee (played by Robin Williams), a banker living in a small town called Taft, California, cannot let go of a failed football game from his high school days. This game from decades ago still haunts him as he dropped the crucial catch, causing their team to lose the biggest game of their lives. 

In an attempt to relieve this missed opportunity, he convinces his friend and former teammate Reno Hightower (played by Kurt Russell), who was the star quarterback at that time, to replay the game against their long-time rivals from Bakersfield. 

This second chance sparks an adventure filled with humor and sentiment, as they confront their past and engage their friends and family in their plan.


The Best of Times uses football to explore the themes of nostalgia, regret, and redemption. This additionally builds into commentary on the American Dream as a whole; the pursuit of glory and the struggle to overcome disappointment and failure. The film additionally satirizes small town mentality and reliance on sports to provide a feeling of accomplishment, even for those not playing the game.


I watched the trailer and literally expected to hate this movie. While I wouldn’t say I ever want to see it again, I enjoyed it so much more than I thought possible. I love the characters and the way they are written. Sure, some are flat, one-dimensional characters, but I loved them all the same. 

Having grown up in a smaller city where people live and die by football, this movie made me miss a piece of my childhood. I was never that guy, but this feeling made me miss the people around me back then who were.

I really liked the dynamics between the two married couples experiencing issues, but for me, the crowning dynamic in this movie is between Jack and Reno. Jack needs this game to find his glory and Reno is scared the game will take the little glory he has left. Their chemistry together is palpable.

I also LOVE when Reno puts on his white shoes and the crowd goes nuts… and Reno walks through the mud and they’re instantly not white.

The football game was pretty damn good. And even though the moment was predictable, it was highly enjoyable.


Overall, it’s a pretty shallow film, but that’s to be expected. I still felt there could be a little more life to the characters.

I feel like the almost sex scene with Jack’s wife was totally out of place, emotionally as well as how it was acted. It advances the plot and is needed, but I hated the way this scene came off. Maybe part of it is that I also JUST watched Moscow on the Hudson, where his love scenes are filled with emotion, tenderness, and care, but this scene felt completely off. Maybe that was the intention, I don’t know, but it really threw me off watching it.

I think my biggest complaint would be the way the wives were written. They were fun and good fodder for this film, but they felt very interchangeable, mostly one-note, and too eager to let everything go to be working so hard to be “separated.” It’s probably just an 80s thing, but it definitely didn’t hold up in 2024.


The opening montage/history of Taft is fantastic.

Favorite Line - You better watch it, Doctor Death! I'm pretty damn fast for a Caucasian.


Donald Moffat plays The Colonel, Jack’s father-in-law and owner of the bank. When The Colonel yells, “Tax write offs are a god given right!” all I could think of was the fact Moffat also played The Taxman in Popeye and was the one imposing taxes. No one else probably cares about this, but it entertained me.

This movie has Robin Williams and Kurt Russell and somehow still isn’t that good. Someone really dropped the ball.

This is the fifth movie in my journey through all 59 of Robin's films.