Is it coincidence that in the same decade that the President of the United States was a former actor, the Hollywood studios put out many cult classics! In the eighties VHS movie rentals and microwave popcorn became the pop culture norm, and made going to the theater mundane and somewhat boring. No matter what was the reason, the eighties gave us entertaining movies. Heck, it was powerful art that impacted the culture and social structure of a generation.
I am sure there is a survey on Facebook which will reveal what Breakfast Club character I most resemble or a quiz that will tell me which Top Gun call sign I should have. But I hate those surveys and quizzes. They just fill up my inbox and get in the way. This morning we watched Short Circuit with the house guests. It was a group of youngters who had never seen the Johnny 5. My favorite quote from the move is, “Hey laser lips, your momma was a snow blower!!”
Where would we be socially if we didn’t have Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I am sure Ben Stein would still be an economics columnist or writing speeches. Or maybe Jennifer Grey would have her original nose. The movie gave every teenager experiencing senioritis or spring fever the dream of skipping school, stealing a vintage Ferrari, and having the perfect day. Since I first watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, I have wanted to play hooky, but I have never done such a thing. I, unlike Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago, would get caught.
The vision of what most little girls dreamed of in their dream man came in a phrase during Princess Bride. “As you wish,” is a simple yet elegant way of saying I love you. It is an enchanting movie with “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, true love,” and a very young Fred Savage. The movie is a wonderful mix of brilliant characters, memorable movie quotes, and a quirky wizard. Princess Bride is my most favorite movie of all time. I met Rob Reiner at an NBA game once; I acted like a little girl… “uh uh Princess Bride is like uh my favorite movie of like all times… it’s like so neat”, or something like that is what I said. I sounded like Raymond from Rain Man, which is another great eighties movie.
Heck, I work in an eighties movie and I am not talking about Space Camp. It is very serendipitous that Space Camp and Top Gun were released in 1986. Also Cmdr. Zach Bergstrom and Viper were both played by Tom Skerritt. Aviation Challenge watches Top Gun every week. Our motto should be, “I feel the need, the need for speed,” or “AC where Goose dies six times per week!” It is a corny, cheesy, and misleading movie, but aren’t all eighties movies like that. It has the perfect formula for a movie – great music, with is lots of action in high performance jets, men in uniforms, some romance, and who can forget the volleyball scene.
There are hundreds of great eighties movies. The origin of the Brat Pack movies, The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire, which I haven’t seen. I know I am a failure. I will have you know that I am an epic failure. Upon researching the Brat Pack, I have not watched any of movies considered for membership. They are The Outsiders, Class, Sixteen Candles, Oxford Blues, Pretty in Pink, Blue City, About Last Night, Fresh Horses, or Betsy’s Wedding. My husband made me promise to visit Blockbusters more often. Up until today, I thought the Brat Pack was everyone in Red Dawn. But they were just teen actors saving the country from Soviet invasion… those godless-commie-#%*@$&s!
The cold war did play a huge part in the movies of the eighties. War Games was the ultimate geek movie of the eighties (followed closely by Weird Science and Real Genius). It was where Matthew Broderick played a strategy game much like Risk over a dial up modem which almost leads to thermonuclear war. “Would you like to play a game?” Scrambling jets and dodging missiles was another big scene in more obscure movies like D.A.R.Y.L. and Cloak and Dagger. Cloak and Dagger’s star was Henry Thomas, the same kid from E.T. Don’t forget the word terrorist being used in the original release of E.T. and then deleted from the DVD release in 2002.
Most people who I have asked have movies like Dirty Dancing, “Babe is going to Mount Holyoake in the Fall.” Others are Steel Magnolias with Ouiser, M’Lynn, and Truvy in a small southern town. Oh, don’t forget, Tom Skerritt was in Steel Magnolias as well (another 80’s trend?). At the top of a lot of people’s list is Goonies! Another eighties movie where Steven Spielberg was involved that was an immediate cult classic. The lasting messages behind Goonies are everyone needs a pack of friend who can save the day and everyone is a Goonie at heart! Being a child of the eighties I longed to find my treasure hunting gang of friends, but I didn’t live in a subdivision which was in jeopardy of being turned into a golf course.
I haven’t even listed Stand By Me, 9 to 5, Annie, Lethal Weapon, Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Terminator. Or who could forget “That’s not a knife, THAT’S a knife!” from Crocodile Dundee. I haven’t even mentioned a single John Cusack flick, but I didn’t fall in love with him until after the millennium.
I think what made eighties so memorable is watching them at home. The age of thousands of channels on television had not yet hit. We were not bombarded with “News Alerts” on every other channel. Al Gore hadn’t invented the Internet just yet. We were not busy text messaging or playing with our iPhones. We were at home with our families and friends. It may have been during the holiday’s watching The Christmas Story on TBS for the hundredth time or on a sleep-over with friends watching the Brat Pack. The point is we were at home focused on what was important, spending time with those we care about.
I am sure the Hollywood executives or the inventor of the VHS player didn’t plan it that way. But I think if we were to ask the man in the Oval Office during most of the eighties if making movies were more important than watching them with the ones you love, he and Nancy would support my conclusion. Spending time at home with the ones closest to you is worth developing a great DVD collection! I have a lot more eighties’ movies to watch.
What’s your favorite eighties movie?