Total Recall: Dennis Quaid's Best Movies
We count down the best-reviewed work of the Footloose star.
Over the course of his long film career, Dennis Quaid has done a lot of things -- played piano like Jerry Lee Lewis, helped NASA make history, policed the wild west, battled a 3D shark, and piloted a teeny-tiny ship through Martin Short's innards, to name just a few. But he's never had his own Total Recall, so in honor of his supporting turn as the tight-seated Reverend Shaw Moore in Craig Brewer's Footloose remake, we decided to take a look at some of the brightest highlights from the DQ filmography. Which of your favorites made the list? Read on to find out!
Pretty much the definition of a high-concept 1980s comedy, Joe Dante's Innerspace stars Martin Short as a neurotic grocery store clerk who's accidentally injected with a solution containing a miniaturized test pilot (played by Dennis Quaid) who's being hunted by criminals (led by Fiona Shaw, Robert Picardo, and Dante favorite Kevin McCarthy) that want to steal the top-secret technology that shrunk him to microscopic size. Boasting laughs, romance, and high adventure, it was an inexplicable failure at the box office, but it was warmly received by critics like Roger Ebert, who wrote, "Here is an absurd, unwieldy, overplotted movie that nevertheless is entertaining -- and some of the fun comes from the way the plot keeps laying it on."
Quaid made a rare onscreen appearance alongside his big brother Randy -- not to mention the Keach, Carradine, and Guest brothers -- in this Walter Hill Western about the James-Younger gang. Casting four real-life sets of brothers as four real-life sets of brothers could have been a pretty cheap gimmick, but Hill (working from a script co-written by Stacy and James Keach) kept things appropriately gritty, aided by ace soundtrack work from Ry Cooder. "Hill is very much in the American grain," observed TIME's Richard Schickel, calling the director "the inheritor of the Ford-Hawks-Walsh tradition of artful, understated action film making."
8. The Rookie
Ah, the inspirational sports drama. Every film fan has seen enough of them that we can sense every beat in the storyline coming half an hour away, but if they're done right, we still can't resist welling up when our scrappy protagonist overcomes seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the final act -- and Quaid, who learned a thing or two about the genre when he filmed Breaking Away, scored again with 2002's The Rookie. Based on the undeniably film-worthy true story of pitcher Jim Morris, who broke into the big leagues at the thoroughly unlikely age of 35, this artfully assembled, family-friendly hit overcame most critics' cynical misgivings. Admitted the New York Times' Stephen Holden, "As averse as I usually am to feel-good, follow-your-dream Hollywood fantasies, this one got to me."
With a beautiful family, a nice house in the suburbs, and a healthy career, Dan Foreman (Quaid) is feeling pretty good about his life. And then it all goes topsy-turvy: his wife (Marg Helgenberger) announces she's pregnant, the company he works for is bought out, and his much younger new boss (Topher Grace) starts dating his 18-year-old daughter (Scarlett Johansson) behind his back. Clearly, In Good Company's premise is fraught with soapy domestic melodrama, and according to some critics, that's all it had to offer -- but for most, the solid cast and sensitive work of director Paul Weitz made the film more than the sum of its parts. In fact, according to the New York Observer's Andrew Sarris, it was "not only the best American picture of 2004, but also the most grown-up movie to come from Hollywood in recent years."
Personal issues temporarily derailed Quaid's film career in the mid-to-late 1990s, leading to ill-advised choices like his part in the Jim Belushi/Tupac Shakur vehicle Gang Related, but just when it looked like he was headed off into the direct-to-DVD sunset, he rediscovered his knack for choosing solid scripts and started popping up as an older, wiser version of his raffish 1980s screen persona. Surprising case in point: Disney's 1998 version of The Parent Trap, a remake that no one asked for, but which still managed to win over critics and audiences with its frothy blend of wholesome humor and charming performances (led by Lindsay Lohan, making her film debut). "Every once in a while," wrote Scott Renshaw, "uncomplicated and inoffensive fun feels just right."