27 years after its release, my memory had managed to turn Breaking Away into "a movie about cycling," all its other details lost to time. Upon rewatching it, I realize now why that happened: Breaking Away isn't about much at all. It's a small, almost silly little movie that takes the setup of The Outsiders -- rich kids vs. working class -- and throws in some bikes. Despite a reasonably fun performance from Daniel Stern, Dennis Quaid earnest overacting sinks what could have been a quaint film about middle America.
Has a teenager ever had it this rough, even in Ireland? Dead mother, cold father, pregnant girlfriend, dead best friend. Geez, he even gets tarred and feathered. Fortunately, the few comic touches (like Keeslar's blessing a pig by saying "oink" backwards) are enough to make this rise above your usual Irish-as-downtrodden-victims fare and into the realm of watchability, though the melodrama eventually gets as thick as a pint of Guinness.