The "Gotcha!" of "Gotcha!," Jeff Kanew's tedious comedy-romance-thriller, is a spy game played by college students. You stalk your quarry, shoot him with a paint pellet, then announce, "Gotcha!" Get it? Gee, what if one of these kids got involved in a real-life spy game, complete with CIA and KGB? Wow, what a heckuva idea!
Well, one does. Jonathan (Anthony Edwards) is the campus champion, "a regular James Bond," with the important exception that he never gets the girl. So it's off to Paris for spring break, where he meets sultry Sasha (Linda Fiorentino), a Czech exile attracted to younger men, particularly if they're "virgins" (or, as she says, "weergins"). Sasha, it turns out, is a "courier" (read spy). Willy-nilly, Jonathan becomes a spy, too.
There's more pillow talk in "Gotcha!" than any movie can stand. The romance, including an embarrassing bicycle-riding, grape-eating montage of the lovers, squashes what little pace the movie has. Kanew, who directed "Revenge of the Nerds," is getting a reputation as someone who makes teen movies a cut above the usual. But all that means is the kids take spring break in Europe instead of Fort Lauderdale. "Look at those Eiffel Towers," says Jonathan's buddy, Manolo (Nick Corri), as a lovely Parisienne walks by. "What an eyeful."
"Gotcha!" is laden with some ham-handed satire of Jonathan's parents, none of which approaches the comic height of "Revenge of the Nerds' " opening sequence. Largely, it consists of the parents' not believing Jonathan's story (they think, ha-ha, he has a drug problem!). And the thrill-seeking of Jonathan's "Gotcha!" game never informs the story. Immersed in real-life danger, he becomes a scaredy-cat. Thrown into East Germany, Jonathan acts like the first person ever appalled by totalitarianism: "Doesn't seem very democratic to me," he says huffily. It's hard to get involved in the troubles of someone who never seems to have read a newspaper.
The script (by Dan Gordon) has a few laughs and more than a few sloppy improbabilities. Edwards and Fiorentino have an engaging naturalness before the camera, although they earn it with a lot of stammering, at the expense of the pace. And there's no real heat between them.
What's most annoying about "Gotcha!," though, is its faked patriotism -- the smug satire of the Russians and East Germans, the scene in which Jonathan finds a Burger King in Berlin and combatively orders a Whopper "with American cheese." Like "Red Dawn," "Gotcha!" uses love of country as a marketing device, a way to capture the teen audience that voted for Reagan.