It’s Valentine’s Day, and therefore we look to a more romantic movie, or at least a bad movie I’ve seen many times that has an element of romance to it. And so we come to Gothcha!, a movie that tries to be romantic in that sort of 80s-era way.
So we start out with Anthony Edwards being the king of some sort of campus-wide paintball assassination game that could only happen in the eighties. I mean, you needed that strange combination of casual neglect and reckless behavior for a bunch of college kids to be able to run around campus with realistic looking guns, and no one really bats an eye about it. It makes no sense, but it’s a set-up we need so the finale works. Which is… well, I’ll get to that.
Having established that, we also establish that Anthony Edwards is a complete failure with the ladies. I mean, I KNOW, who would have guessed that a guy who plays with toy guns in college wouldn’t be a total babe magnet? They even have Anthony Edwards complain to his actual babe-magnet friend (Manolo) and roommate about this in the middle of a college lecture. The only purpose of this scene is so he can say, “I’m never gonna get laid!” loud enough just when everything in the lecture hall gets suddenly quiet. Which is absurd, but that’s the movies for you. Although I kind of love that the professor, played to dorkish perfection, says, “As a future veterinarian, you should know that every dog has his day.” And says it in such a way as to convey, “Hey, I look like a nerd, my friend, but I am hip deep in the strange 24-7.” The real purpose of this scene, though, is to let us know that there is a tranquilizer dart gun on campus. That may come up later.
Then the plot starts to move along: Anthony Edwards is travelling to Europe with his horndog friend for Spring Break. In Paris, they split up, as Manolo decides to pursue a Swiss girl by—and I’m not making this up—pretending to be a terrorist on the run. THAT’S HIS ACTUAL PLAY. Meanwhile Anthony Edwards goes to some bar and has a Monty Python bit with the waiter.
I mention that because it is indicative of how this movie has no consistent tone. It is attempting farcical comedy one moment, sappy romantic in another, and deadly serious after that, whipping around between these poles. Seriously, this movie has Russian spies shooting real bullets at Anthony Edwards in one scene, and shortly after that he’s doing “Dave’s Not Here” bits with his parents’ maid on the phone.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
After getting his French drunk on, he meets Sasha, played by the alluring-but-never-quite-got-her-full-due-in-Hollywood Linda Fiorentino. They have a bit of charming interplay and end up in bed together. And then we’re in full on romance movie mode, as they have a montage of romancing around Paris, with really, really horrible music scoring it. This song will kill your soul. There’s also a whole bit where she “teaches him Europe” and “he teaches her America” which somehow involves slurping root beer floats. Given that—SPOILER—Sasha is really an American spy from Pittsburgh, I can’t imagine she doesn’t think he’s a total schmuck for this whole thing.
She convinces him to change his travel plans and go to Berlin with her (while Manolo goes off to Madrid alone), and off they go. She confesses that she’s a courier, so he knows he’s dealing with a low-level spy, and then they go into East Berlin for the real job.
Now, I have to admit the way Sasha pulls off this job is pretty clever. Find a patsy, takes him into East Germany. Then she gives him a fake “package” (a strudel) that’s nothing, while slipping the real thing (a roll of film) into his bag without him knowing. Then split up, having given him the code phrase for “GET OUT OF EAST BERLIN”, and let him smuggle the thing across. With all his nervous energy focused on the strudel, he doesn’t even realize he’s got an extra roll of film and the custom agent things nothing of it.
And then a bit more comedy, once he’s back in West Berlin, and confirms that with the American soldier standing there, he turns and screams “FUCK YOU!” to East Berlin, and the soldier deadpans, “I been wanting to do that for six months.”
He doesn’t know what’s up, and tries to deliver the strudel to Sasha’s contact, and she gets killed, and he gets chased and shot at. He manages to escape by hitching a ride with a bunch of German punks who inexplicably love Randy Newman songs.
Back home, shit gets real as his parents are convinced he’s on drugs, Russian spies are after him, the CIA is after him, his apartment has been tossed by someone, and he realizes he has an extra roll of film. So, wanting to get to the bottom of things, he has Manolo use his LA Street Gang connections (WHAT? Yeah, just roll with it.) to send the CIA on a bit of a wild goose chase to put Sasha in a car with him while ditching the rest of the CIA.
And really, as much as I love a “we don’t need no stinking badges” joke, there’s no way a sequence where several dozen Hispanic gang members pull guns on a few CIA agents doesn’t end HORRIBLY for everyone. But we’re led to believe Manolo can flash a smile and say, “Remember the Alamo” and drive off, rather than end up with ten to twenty in a Federal prison.
FINALLY, we get the point where Anthony Edwards and Linda Fiorentino are back on campus, with Russian spies after them. So Anthony Edwards goes back to the lecture hall and gets the tranq gun BECAUSE OF COURSE HE DOES, and we’re at the point where he’s playing the game from the beginning of the movie BUT FOR REAL.
Seriously, the whole movie is an elaborate set-up for this bit that’s only the last five minutes of the movie. It’s like a complicated joke told by an eight-year-old, and it isn’t that funny.
He takes out two of the Russians, but the head Russian captures Linda Fiorentino, and there’s a tense stand-off where he’s got Anthony Edwards dead to rights. But then some fratty choad who almost got Anthony Edwards in the game-playing part beginning of the movie sees this from a distance—like we’re supposed to remember this guy who looks like his picture could be in the dictionary next to “average”—and decides this is his moment. He takes out his paint gun and shoots Anthony Edwards, and the sudden appearance of a red splotch confuses the Russian long enough for Anthony Edwards to make his move and tranq the guy.
THE DEUS EX MACHINA IS THE RANDOM, FORGETABLE GUY FROM THE BEGINNING.
The CIA has caught up with everyone, finally, and there’s hints that they might be interested in Anthony Edwards once he’s done with college. Plus, despite figuring out that Linda Fiorentino is not a sexy European spy, but a sexy Pennsylvanian spy, they still seem to stay together.
And then Anthony Edwards shoots a random girl in the ass with a tranq because she told him to get lost. Yes, that is literally the final image in the movie: misogynistic assault, played for laughs.
America! Fuck yeah!
NEXT WEEK: Dreamscape