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Promised Land 1988

R CC
Available on Prime
3.2 out of 5 stars (38) IMDb 5.7/10

This gritty drama follows two high school acquaintances, Hancock and Danny, after they graduate. The first film commissioned by the Sundance Film Festival, it portrays the other half of the American dream, as Hancock and his cheerleader girlfriend wander to a middle-class mediocrity out of reach for Danny and his psychotic wife Bev.

Starring:
Jason Gedrick, Tracy Pollan
Runtime:
1 hour, 42 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Michael Hoffman
Starring Jason Gedrick, Tracy Pollan
Supporting actors Kiefer Sutherland, Meg Ryan, Googy Gress, Deborah Richter, Oscar Rowland, Sandra Seacat, Jay Underwood, Herta Ware, Logan Field, Kelly Ausland, Todd Anderson, Dave Valenza, Theron Read, Richard Matthews, Cindy Clark, Charles Black, Tony Kruletz, Jim S. Cash
Studio Lionsgate
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 9, 2003
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I got a copy of the film 'Promised Land' from a friend. It is set in a small midwestern town where high school basketball is king. Sounds rather like Indiana, doesn't it? This gave the initial appeal to me, as films like this can help me understand the people in the area better -- at least, this is my hope, since I am not an Indiana native.
The actors are all very young. The film stars a very young Keifer Sutherland (Danny) and Meg Ryan (Bev) as a rather unlikely couple. The real 'star' of the film, the one who gets top billing, is Jason Gedrick (Hancock), whose career has been rather less prominent than Sutherland's or Ryan's. Tracy Jo Pollan (Mary) also stars in one of her few starring film roles. Pollan is now much better known through her marriage to Michael J. Fox.
The plot is a rather simple one. Four characters -- a high school basketball star (Hancock), a cheerleader (Mary), a dropout (Danny), his wife from a western state (Bev)-- all get tangled together in a final blow-up in the small hometown. The film opens during the all-important last moments of a basketball game. Of course, our guys win; the basketball star announces he's leaving for college, and the dropout announces he's leaving town. The cheerleader is left behind, but has hopes of her own.
Fast-forward two years. The basketball star is back home, working as a policeman. We slowly discover during the course of the film that he didn't make it as a college basketball star, and couldn't stay in college any other way. Mary, meanwhile, has gone off to another college, but has come home for the Christmas holiday, and as Hancock tries to rekindle old feelings, probably largely derived from hoping to recapture feelings of past glory, she feels pressured.
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By A Customer on July 7, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Alas, the whole is less than the parts. Promised Land is a beautifully filmed, well acted, heartbreaking story with an absolutely fabulous score by the always excellent James Newton Howard. Its just that the material--the story itself--isn't worthy of such gorgeous cinematography and fine performances. Storywise, its pretty much junk but what raises it up are some really (visually) beautiful scenes.
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Format: DVD
A story of people whose lives didn't soar as they hoped. Some fine young actors, an only mildly inspired script. Based very loosely on an event in Idaho in 1979, set and filmed in Utah with support from Robert Redford and his Sundance Institute.

RIP Nickle, who kept that broken angel wing.
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Format: DVD
SPOILER (clearly marked) BELOW!

Promised Land is competently directed and well-written (the dialog is great, although the story is neither particularly interesting nor believable), but it's mainly a character-driven, actor's movie. What the characters do is uninteresting, but how they do it is fascinating.

Jason Gedrick, Kiefer Sutherland and Meg Ryan are fantastic in the leads. Most of the other actors are at least competent, although their roles are far less well-developed.

Gedrick's has-been high-school basketball star is totally convincing and amazingly complex and sympathetic, far more interesting than such people are in real life.

SPOILER HERE!!!!
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
Sutherland's sweet, nerdy, needy, clueless loser reminds me of Plato (Sal Mineo) in Rebel Without a Cause - a character so profoundly disabled emotionally that dying young is not only inevitable but a blessing. He's like a person born with no skin.
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END OF SPOILER

Meg Ryan is fascinating as his miserable, destructive and self-destructive wife - a bad influence but not really a bad person.

These three actors (and the brilliant writer who created the roles) turn familiar stereotypes (The Washed-Up Jock, The Loser Nerd, The Crazy B!tch) into full, rich, multidimensional human beings.

But these three characters are more than human beings, because real human beings are just as simplistic and flat as the stereotypes they inspire. These are great movie characters, BETTER than real people.

That's why we watch movies instead of real people: great movie characters are lots more interesting. The three lead characters make this otherwise mediocre movie a delight to watch.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
The acting was superb, especially by Kiefer Sutherland, you actually felt his angst/anxiety. I found myself continuously urging Tracy Pollan's character to stay in school. A good movie, definitely worth watching but don't expect a happily ever after ending.
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This was a tragically adorable film, and all the actors gave phenomenal performances! Particularly, Meg Ryan's performance made me wonder if this was why she was chosen later for "when a man loves a woman"; because, the woman has a knack for playing a lovable yet irritating drunk. And young Kiefer Sutherland!!! Sigh, he was so loving and naively tolerant. Couldn't help but fall in love with him all over again in this role; can't believe I've never seen or heard of this film before. I highly recommend.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Well, I love this movie. One reason is that Meg Ryan and Kiefer Sutherland do some of their best acting ever. The biggest reason is that my dad is in this movie doing some of his best acting work ever. Dad makes me cry every time I see his performance in this movie.
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