pass the ammo. 1986. amateur thieves old two televangelists hostage in order to force a confession on live television that they’re frauds. with tim curry and annie potts.
foxes. 1980. an early one from adrian lyne, director of flashdance and fatal attraction. routine angst drama exploring a group of high school girlfriends’ absentee parents, sexual promiscuity, and the like. with jodi foster, scott baio, and randy quaid.
grandview USA. 1984. despite being marketed as the story of a teen outgrowing life in his rural hometown, the movie is vignette of connected subplots about the teen, a crash car derby owner and one of her drivers. while the parodies of the wanderlust teen lead to some excessively idiotic moments (i.e. the “steel-y man of action” music video) it is overall a suitable distraction. with c. thomas howell, jamie lee curtis, patrick swayze, john philbin and jennifer jason leigh.
rumble fish. 1983. applying a classic noir atmosphere, francis ford copola directs one of the best adaptations of s.e. hinton’s novels (he also directed the outsiders, released the same year) albeit the corny dialog and some terrible acting. rusty james awaits the return of his older brother-the newly pacified ‘motorcycle boy’-who seeks to distance himself from his legendary street rumbler reptuation. with matt dillon, mickey rourke, vincent spano and dennis hopper.
necessary parties. 1988. from the PBS wonderworks collection, a boy’s only recourse to his parent’s decision to divorce is to sue them. co-written by alan arkin. with mark paul gosselar and julie haggerty.
my life as a dog. 1985. director lasse hallström’s wonderful swedish drama-lite set in the 1950s documents the pangs of childhood when one boy, separated from his brother after their mother’s death, lives with his nutty uncle in the country. with anton glanzelius.
au revoir, les enfants. 1986. in this semi-autobiographical tale from director louise malle, growing up comes at lightning speed for students at a french catholic high school during the nazi invasion in ww2. one boy befriends a classmate whom he discovers is hidign his jewish heritage. with gaspard manesse.
the war of the roses. 1989. black comedy from danny devito told in flashback. a divorce lawyer narrates to his client a cautious tale of a viciously intolerable divorced couple sharing a house for purposes of property allocation. with michael douglas and kathleen turner.
high tide. 1987. an underrated australian drama. dumped as a backup singer for an elvis impersonation act, a woman befriends her estranged teen daughter. but her mother-in-law warns her to stay away. with judy davis.
the river rat. 1984. an underrated mix of drama and adventure. recently released from prison, a father bonds with his teenage daughter as they first restore an old boat and then avoid the clutches of a prison doctor who wants the money stolen by the father years earlier. with martha plimpton, tommy lee jones and brian dennehy.
cookie. 1989. a mild mafia comedy from ‘desperately seeking susan’ director susan sneidleman and writer nora ephron. a recently released ex-convict tries to keep a low profile and his daughter out of jail while he tries to recover money owed to him by former mob partners who refuse to pay. emily lloyd and diane weist are great as usual. with peter falk and adrian pasdar.
max dugan returns. 1983. a great neil simon comedy that closely models simon’s earlier comedy, seems like old times (1980). a woman’s estranged, ailing father suddenly shows up with a briefcase full of cash and need for a hideout. posing as her tenant. however, it obviously becomes difficult to keep up the charade (especially around her suspicious detective boyrfriend) when he showers her and his teen grandson with lavish gifts. with marsha mason, jason robards, donald sutherland. film debut of matthew broderick.
i ought to be in pictures. 1982. an aspiring actress from new york suddenly shows up in l.a. to visit her estranged father, a washed up TV writer. she stays a few months to patch up their relationship and try her luck in the business. mild neil simon comedy starts well, but loses momentum about halfway through. with walter matthau, ann margaret and dinah manoff.
at close range. 1986. a stark drama based on a true story. two brothers trying to impress their sleazy father are recruited into his gang along with their friends. when a heist goes south and one brother gets busted, the father, doubting his son’s loyalty, works to eliminate all possible loose ends. but someone lives to tell the tale. with the penn brothers, christopher walken (in a role offer to de niro who considered it “too dark”), mary stuart masterson and crispin glover.
staying together. 1989. director lee grant’s boring drama about three brothers, unsure of their future plans when their father sells the family restaurant. with dermot mulroney, sean astin, stockyard channing, daphne zuniga and dinah manoff.
mystic pizza. 1988. the movie that put mystic, connecticut on the map. two sisters and one friend deal with boyfriends and friendship. the youngest has an affair with her married employer. another debates marital commitment. and the third is wooed by a wealth, charismatic young local. great performances all around by the pre-stardom cast that includes anabeth gish, julia roberts, lilli taylor and vincent d’onofrio (not being weird). also billy moses, adam stork and a bit part by matt damon who’s immortal line is “mom, do i have to eat my green stuff?”
crazy moon. 1986. annoying romantic comedy riddled with sparse dialog. two loners – a guy stuck in the 1940s and a deaf woman – waver in their relationship. with kiefer sutherland.
choose me. 1984. perfect for fans of off-the-wall indie movies, several quirky, connected characters all give their ritual assessment of love and relationships. with rae dawn chong, john larroquette and kieth carradine.
she’s having a baby. 1989. john hughes satirizes the anxieties of college sweethearts turned newlyweds and soon, new parents, with expectations and realitites constrasted ala he said, she said (1991). with kevin bacon, elizabeth mcgovern and alec baldwin.
another woman. 1988. great, well-written drama starring gena rowlands as a professor renting a loft to write a book. able to hear the therapy sessions in the neighboring room, she eavesdrops on confessions that coincide with her and her friend’s various infidelities and marital disenchantment.
modern girls. 1986. a low-budget comedy offering limited laughs in the story of three friends’ chasing romance one evening at a nightclub. with daphne zuniga and clayton rhoner in a duel role.shag. 1989. a fun 80s classic. teen gal pals lie to their parents about weekend plans while vacationing in myrtle beach for unadulterated fun before their convservative best friend gets married. with bridget fonda, phoebe cates, annabeth gish, robert russler and scott coffey.
fraternity vacation. 1985. like a male version of shag (see above) minus the dance contest. two jerky college friends join their nerdy friend at his parent’s beachside condo for spring break. sure they can show him the best way to meet women, their methods fail while his natural sincerity works. with tim robbins, cameron dye and fright night‘s stephen geoffrey before his career in gay porn.
the allnighter. 1987. a terrible comedy from the mother of bangles singer/guitarist, suzanna hoffs. five friends encounter dozens of mishaps on the eve of their college graduation. with joan cusack and dee dee pfieffer.
the wild life. 1984. christopher penn, as a jeff spicoli knock off, carries most of the movie in this narrative constructed from vingettes of subplots characteristic of writer cameron crowe. a slacker tries to convince his obedient friend that getting his own place demands living “the wild life.” with eric stolz, lea thompson, jenny wright and ilan-mitchell smith.
fandango. 1985. amusing roadtrip drama set during the vietnam war. five college friends known as “the groovers” venture into the texas desert to unearth the symbolic “donner” before parting ways after graduation. with kevin costner and judd nelson.
twist and shout. 1984. wonderful 1960s era danish drama desite plot cliches. two friends face different coming-of-age experiences. one is a free-spirited rock n’ roll fanatic who’s first true love gets pregnant. the other is a timid teen who defies his stern father to help his misunderstood, ailing mother.
puberty blues. 1981. two self-conscious surfer gal pals have a lesson in independence following disastrous first times with obnoxious surfer boys. in dire need of audio remastering and translation for ample slang.
stealing home. 1988. a washed up minor league baseball player returns to his hometown when named the guardian of his friend’s ashes following her suicide. most of the film is a flashback of his teen years and their friends as he questions whether he wants responsibility for her remains. with william macnamara, jonathan silverman, jodi foster and mark harmon.
class of 1984. 1982. teenagers gone mad! a once surprisingly hard-to-find movie that’s one of the often poorly done 70s and 80s cult genre of low-budget dramas centering on filmmakers’ bizarre and outrageous view of the urban teen. some of the more disappointing titles include knights of the city (1986), savage streets (1984) and 3:15 (1984). the genre later develops into more sophisticated criticisms of the institutional failures. based on a true story, a gang of trouble-making teens torment a school’s well-meaning but tragically naive music teacher who is determined to rid the campus of their annoying fashion victims (think post-apocalytpic garb). with perry king and roddy mcdowell. film debut of michael j. fox. followed by the class of 1999 movies.
fast talking. 1984. obscure aussie drama. a teen already facing shoddy circumstances as a dope dealer with a drunk father and a mother who ran off with a cake shop owner, see his problems fester he constantly tries to fast talk his way out of trouble . with rod zuniac (scrooloose in mad max beyond thunderdome).
twisted. 1986. before mac culkin’s young villain in the good son (1993), christian slater played an eerie teen who has no problem torturing those who irk him in the slightest. but caution slater fans: he’s very creepy in this role!
the boys next door. 1986. the prologue states that serial killers, though often outcasts, had the appearance of stable lives. penelope spheeris directs this dark and unmemorable tale of two teen outcasts who venture to los angeles after graduation where one goes on a killing spree. with maxwell caulfield, charlie sheen and christopher macdonald.
bad boys. 1983. harsh drama about a petty crime teen who’s sentenced to juvenile prison for vehicular manslaughter. his victim was the brother of a soon-to-be prisonmate who vows revenge. with sean penn, ally sheedy and esai morales.
tuff turf. 1985. predictable, cheesy 80s teen action film ala romeo & juliet. a smart ass new kid in town woos a young gang leader’s girlfriend. with james spader and robert downey, jr.
three o’clock high. 1986. great parody of western films. after accidetnally having broken the “no touching” rule and pissing off the new guy with a rumored violent past, he is challenged to a schoolyard fight, which he spends the whole day trying to avoid. great art direction and storytelling technique. with casey seizmasko and richard tyson.
my bodyguard. 1983. a comedy of an unlikely pair of friends. a timid kid hires a new kid with a rumored past to protect him from a bully, but something in his past makes the bodyguard reluctant to fight. with chris makepeace, adam baldwin, matt dillon and joan cusak.
brotherhood of justice. 1986. a decent made-for-tv drama based on the true story of a 1985 texas high school gang composed of upper-middle class students. formed to combat campus crime, the gang eventually evolves into a violent free-for-all against unwanted classmates. told from the viewpoint of one of the gang’s members. with keanu reeves, danny nucci, kiefer sutherland, lori laughlin and gary riley (‘summer school’). draws from the same events as the slow-moving b-drama, dangerously close (1986), which follows the actual events more closely-revealing involvement by one of the teachers-and is told from the point-of-view of a perspective victim. with john stockwell (who also co-writes), carey lowell, dee dee pfieffer and robert russler.
the new kids. 1985. decent 80s action film. teen siblings who’s parents died live with their relatives on the grounds of a southern amusement park. they eventually have to fend off a pyschotic teenager and his goons when the sister refuses his advances. with james spader, lori laughlin, eric stolz and john philbin.
rooftops. 1989. semi-cheesy crime drama combines street fighting and break dancing. a handful of homseless teens who inabit rooftops of abandoned buildings battle a nasty drug dealer who invade their territor. although it contains half-decent fight sequences, it is overall slow-moving and laughable. with jason gedric and tiesha campbell.
red dawn. 1984. idiotic super-patriotic cold war nonsense is an 80s teen vehicle. when commies invade their small town and attack their high school, a group of teen takes it upon themselves to single-handedly fight back. with patrick swayze, powers boothe, c. thomas howell and lea thompson. a much better alternative is toy soldiers (1991), which makes for perfect lazy afternoon action movie. under-achiever teens at a posh private school attempt to save their school when terrorists suddenly invade. with sean astin, wil wheaton, keith coogan and louis gosset, jr.
queen city rocker. 1986. petty theft teens looking to escape a dead-end life try to rescue one’s sister, a hooker with a hefty price tag courtesy of a dangerous crime boss. decent aussie drama, but lacks the punk spirit and grittyness of writer/director alex cox’s films repo man (1984) or sid and nancy (1986), which this movie is compared in the synopsis.
barfly. 1987. writer charles bukowski’s story of an alcoholic poet who falls in love with a fellow barfly. to celebrate their newfound romance, they drink themselves into a stupor faster than nicholas cage in leaving las vegas (1995). with mickey rourke and faye dunaway.contract for life: the s.a.d.d. story. 1984. back when the television networks promoted educational programming, CBS produced an extremely dated after school special about high school hockey coach bob anastas who originated the students against drunk driving organization following the death of two of his players. with stephen macht and billy zabka.
bright lights, big city. 1988. adapted from jay macinerny’s great novel, an apsiring young writer recently separated from his supermodel wife indulges the yuppie drug scene to ease the misery of unattainable ambition. with michael j. fox, kiefer sutherland, charlie schlatter and swoozie kurtz.
the boost. 1988. a midwestern couple get caught up in the drug scene when they move to los angeles for the husband’s high-paying job at a shady investment firm. but while the wife becomes weary of the new lifestyle, the husband finds solace in cocaine when bad financial decisions result in spiraling debt. corny dialog, but overall makes a compelling point. with james woods and sean young.
clean and sober. 1988. after waking up next to a dead girl and being exposed for embezzlement, a cocaine addict hides out in rehab clinic and is eventually forced to admit he needs to get clean. with michael keaton, morgan freeman and kathy baker at their best.river’s edge. 1986. writer neal jimenez’s exploration of extreme teenage apathy in the story of a group of teen’s reaction to their friend having murder another. with keanu reeves, crispin glover and dennis hopper.
the stone boy. 1984. slow moving drama about a confused boy alienated from his family after accidentally fatally shooting his older brother. with jason pressman, robert duvall and glenn close.
among the cinders. 1983. low-key new zealand drama adapted from maurice shadbolt’s bildungsroman novel that centers on a teenager who spends time with his grandfather in the gum fields when his parents misinterpret his absence of grief following the death of a friend on a camping trip.
less than zero. 1987. the embarrassing adaptation of bret easton ellis’ crucial novel exploring the decadence of 1980s socialite teens instead becomes an anti-drug campaign in the story of a young man who returns home from college to save his best friend who’s become hooked on drugs. with andrew macarthy, robert downey, jr. and jami gertz.suburbia. 1984. punk loyalist director penelope spheeris provides an honest observance of punk culture and youth disillusionment. communal teens known as the “rejected kids” witness the hypocrisy of a proposed utopia-the suburbs. as outsiders, they’re easy scapegoats, especially when a security guard is stabbed at a club. featuring live performances of old punk favorites TSOL, DI and the vandals. with flea and wade watson (bass player of the US bombs).
dudes. 1988. a completely idiotic comedy from suburbia director, penelope spheeris is worth avoiding. two guys dress up as cowboy and indian to avenge the motorcyle gang (headed up by fear frontman, lee ving) that killed their friend. with jon cryer and flea.
heathers. 1989. a bona fide cult classic black comedy. an aspiring A-crowd teen befriends a strange loner and soon becomes an accomplice to what she first assumes to be a joke, but eventually becomes a series of schemes intended to rid their high school of the reigning popularity of the three heathers. with winnona ryder, christian slater and shannon daugherty. a potential inspiration for tina fey’s feminist comedy, mean girls (2004).
the legend of billie jean. 1985. “fair is fair!” an underrated commenatry of vigiliante justice, when her borther’s motor scooter is trashed, billie jean deamnds compensation, but the people responsible refuse to pay. an accidental shooting follows, forcing the girl, her brother, and their friends on the run. idealistic fugitives turned teenage heroes, they refuse to surrender. with helen slater, christian slater, peter coyote and kieth gordon.
broadcast news. 1987. overall, a decent criticism from writer/director james l. brooks. two network news executives, beholden to certain principals of professionalism and ethics, face a losing battle with department changes when an arrogant pretty boy breaks the rules and becomes the network favorite. joan cusack’s best moment is the sequence where she is racing to get a tape on air. with holly hunter, albert brooks and william hurt.the chocolate war. 1988. director keith gordon’s word-for-word adaptation of robert cormier’s fantastic novel offers a different conclusion. a parochial school’s acting headmaster illegally squanders school funds and pushes a chocolate sale among the students to save his ass. but, when a lone freshman’s refusal to participate begins to influence his classmate’s to act similarly, the headmaster employs the services of a secret student society to force compliance. with ilan mitchell smith, john glover and wally ward.
wisdom. 1986. emilio esteves’s poorly written drama about a naive young man who, permanently unemployed because of a past felony conviction, wages war on the banks following record farm foreclosures. the idealistic fugitive soon becomes a hero of the people and a target of the feds. with demi moore and tom skerrit. it’s a similar story to miles from home (1988), directed by gary sinise. two farmhand brothers becomes outlaws of the people when they can’t save their parents’ famous farm (once visited by kruschev) from foreclosure and sale to a corporation. with richard gere and kevin anderson.
how to get ahead in advertising. 1989. excelent british black comedy. once able to sell anything, an advertising agent frustrated with being unable to create a satisfying marketing campaign for a zit cream concludes that mass consumerist life is bullshit. but, in attempting influence others with his recent self-actualization, he suffers a nervous breakdown and grows a talking boil on his neck that soon develops it’s own features and personality and seeks to silence him. with richard e. grant.looker. 1981. written and directed by michael chrichton, a company who’s research reveals that models in commercials are given more attention than the featured product, create a machine to control the viewer’s attention even after the commercial ends. a plastic surgeon learns that his patient’s unusual deaths are linked to the machine. with albert finney, susan day and james coburn.
agency. 1980. agency: do you have it? an initially slow moving drama that serves as an example of the hypodermic model of public opinion. the last original employee of an advertising firm risks his life to investigate his mysterious new employer, a master in the art of subliminal advertising. with lee majors and robert mitchum.
they live! 1988. john carpenter’s science fiction attack on mass consumerism is the simulacra forerunner to the matrix (1999). a construction worker, enticed by a strange cult, finds a pair of sunglasses that detect aliens disguised as humans using consumption to force compliance in their take over of the planet. ironic? “obey” is now sprite’s simplified slogan. with “rowdy” roddy piper, kieth david and meg foster.
mosquito coast. 1986. concluding society to be a self-destructive failure, an inventor moves his family to an isolated island to build a proposed, self-sufficient utopia. directed by peter weir. with harrison ford, helen mirren, river phoenix and martha plimpton. similar to the ballad of jack and rose (2005), an awkward drama about the last remaining residents of a vermont hippie commune who can no longer sustain their isolation when a father dying of cancer must force his teen daughter into the outside world where she would live with his friends after he died. with daniel day lewis.
packin’ it in. 1983. in a sort of neil simon made-for-TV commentary on urban life, a man becomes irritated with city life and moves the family to the boonies. but after a series of mishaps with the weird locals, he reconsiders. with richard benjamin and molly ringwald. very similar to the check is in the mail… (1986), a mild comedy criticizing the rising cost of living in the story of a man who forces his suburban family to be self-sufficient, much to the chagrin of both his family and neighbors. with brian dennehy and anne archer.
lost in america. 1985. an albert brooks comedy about a man who, when passed up for an important promotion at work, encourages his wife to quit her job, sell the house, and live ala easy rider, except in an RV rather than on motorcyles. butt plans sour when his wife gambles away the last of their life savings. with julie jaggerty.
ladyhawke. 1985. in richard donner’s fantasy romance set to modern rock, black knight navarre seeks to break a bishop’s curse that prevents he and his lover from being simultaneously human. he turns into a wolf by night; she into a hawk by day. nice cinematography. with rutger hauer, michelle pfieffer, john wood and matthew broderick.legend. 1985. director ridley scott’s fantasy fiction and partial inspiration for the legend of zelda borrows much of it’s visuals from music videos. threatening eternal evil, a demon (tim curry in some superb special effects makeup) tries to destroy the last living unicorn and force a fairy princess to be his wife. (it’s much better than that description just made it sound). with tom cruise and mia sara. soundtrack by tangerine dream.the adventures of buckaroo bonzai and the 8th dimension. 1984. confusing, but creative science fiction cult classic is laden with cold-war metaphors. the multi-talented buckaroo bonzai and his crew defend their dimension from the rival 8th dimension. with peter weller, john lithgow, ellen barkin, jeff goldbum, christopher lloyd and jamie lee curtis.the adventures of baron munchausen. 1988. director terry gilliam’s fanasty film is similar to tim burton’s big fish (2004). baron munchausen, known for embellishing, narrates how he and his gang saved the townspeople from the turks. however, fact and fiction are never really clear cut. featuring some great art direction. with john neville, eric idle, sarah polley, oliver reed, johnathan pryce and uma thurman.cat city. 1986. a not so-surrealistic hungarian cartoon done in the animated style of ‘a wrinkle in time.’ the evil cats of cat city create a hypnosis device to be used on mice to serve as accomplices of their dastardly deeds. a suave crime-fighting rat named gumshoe is hired to stop them. great soundtrack, especially during the scene where a patrol mouse convinces a colony of bats to spare his life by serenading them with an awesome trumpet solo turned jam session.the snowman. 1982. raymond brigg’s children’s book is beautifully adapted to a short welsh cartoon. a boy shares an adventure with a snowman one night when his creation comes to life. david bowie hosts the introduction to the PBS version.creature comforts. 1989. a series of claymation shorts from wallace and gromit director nick park includes a series of interviews with zoo animals (once air between shows on nickelodeon), a version of ‘the man in the iron mask,’ a simple parody of creation of man, a terrific story of a girl’s aunt who is killed by a collection company for defaulting on payments for her washer/dryer but wanders around purgatory trying to retrieve her handbag.the mad max trilogy. 1979 – 1985. (mad max, road warrior and mad max: beyond thunderdome). the first of george miller’s post-apocalyptic action trilogy begins with max pursuing a vicious desert gang that murders his family. in the sequel, max protects an isolated commune from a gang trying to steal their gasoline supply. and in the third, max’s troubles begin when he makes a deal with the sleazy leader of “bartertown” to kill the technological mastermind’s bodyguard in exchange for re-supplying his stolen equipment. with mel gibson and tina turner. the ‘transparency now’ website contains an excellent essay analysis of the film. www.transparencynow.com/maxintro.htm
city limits. 1985. an extremely low budget science fiction film which is not only hard to follow at times, but incredibly boring made for appropriate riffing in an episode of mystery science theater 3000. when the adults died off from the plague, their orphans were left to rebuild. split into factions, one wants control of the whole city for their reconstruction plans. with john stockwell, rae dong chong, kim catrall and james earl jones.
motorama. 1988. a strange desert tale of temptation and redemption centers on a ten year old runaway who encounters numerous eccentric folks while passing through fictional towns in search of ‘motorama’ game cards, which promise a significant monetary prize. the DVD marketing is deceptive as this is neither a love story nor does drew barrymore have anything more than a cameo. with cult favorites mary woronov and dick miller.
repo man. 1984. “repo man’s got all night! every night!” hilarious, strange punk science fiction from director alex cox. otto, punk from the suburban wasteland, becomes a repo man and, with colleagues, car thieves and fascist UFO enthusiasts trail a mysterious chevy malibu. briefly features the circle jerks performing a live version of “when the shit hits the fan.” with emilio esteves and harry dean stanton.
radioactive dreams. 1985. potential for a good cult classic is ruined by both bad acting and a scrap budget. two young men, abandoned after the bomb is dropped, leave to pursue their 1950s pulp fiction inspired quest to be “big time dicks” (detectives). but while rescuing a lady from toxic mutants during their journey, they accidentally acquire a highly sought after set of keys to nuke missiles. with john stockwell, michael dudikoff and george kennedy.
miracle mile. 1988. a timid guy finally meets his dream girl on the eve of accidentally receiving a phone call that the atomic bomb will detonate in a few hours. although containing a great soundtrack, it is a seriously corny cult film. with anthony edwards and mare winningham.
night of the comet. 1984. two valley girl sisters unwittingly avoid a comet that wiped out the planet and turn most survivors into zombies. with catherine mary stewart and mary woronov.
the quiet earth. 1985. a new zealand end-of-the-world drama centers on survivors who were about to die at the very moment an energy exploded and wiped everyone else out of existence. the first half is fantastic, exploring not the typical dystopia, but instead psychological breakdown as a result of lone survivor zac’s prolonged isolation. the second half lags and never recovers when he discovers two other surivors-a woman and an aboriginal man. with bruno lawrence.
dream a little dream. 1989. teen angst takes a new form when underachiever bobby switches bodies with his elderly neighbor upon interrupting an experiment in spiritual conversion. though horribly out of touch and desperate to return to normal, the old man helps bobby academically, but creates new problems when he falls for his crazy friend’s girlfriend. with corey feldman (in trademark michael jackson garb), corey haim, jason robards, piper laurie, harry dean stanton, and meredith salenger. followed by the straight-to-video dream a little dream 2 (1995). doing a complete character reversal, bobby is now a yuppie and dinger a neo-hippie. the two get hold of sunglasses that allow them to control the person wearing them. though a fairly lame sequel, it has its moments.
just one of the guys. 1985. when an aspiring writer doesn’t win a contest as expected, she assumes gender bias. with her parents conveniently out of town and the neighboring school lacking paperwork requirements, she poses as a boy at a neighboring school, intending to submit another article. but her experiment brings more trouble than she bargained for. perfect for fans of cheesy 80s movies if you can tolerate joyce hauser’s whining. with billy zabka, clayton rhoner and billy jacoby.
he’s my girl. 1987. an aspiring rock star’s manager wins his client a trip los angeles, which he expects to bring free publicity. but, because the trip requires the winners to be a couple, the manager poses as a woman. although a completely by-the-book role-switching comedy, it may be worth it for t. k. carter’s performance.
like father, like son. 1987. another by-the-book switch. a teen and his dad-polar opposites-soon begin to understand each other when the father accidentally drinks a potion that causes him to switch bodies with his son. the better scenes involve the amusing mishaps of the late dudley moore. with kirk cameron and sean astin. the better alternative is vice versa (1988) largely because of judge rheinhold’s mastery of adolescent tom foolery. with fred savage, swoozie kurtz and jane kaczmarek.
18 again! 1988. a grandfather switches bodies with his grandson, giving the grandson a much needed boost in self-esteem thanks to george burn’s suave appeal. with charlie schlatter and pauley shore.
soul man. 1986. what might’ve seemed like an interesting way of portraying first-hand experience of racism actually comes off as both incredibly offensive and insulting. when a rich white kid’s father won’t pay his harvard tuition, he poses as a black man to get a scholarship. with c. thomas howell and ex-wife rae dawn chong. also ayre gross and james earl jones.
just like a woman. 1989. a rare, low budget british production tastefully approaching the subject of transvestites. an american businessman who separates from his wife when she think he’s been cheating on her befriends the landlord of a boarding home to whom he confides that he’s a transvestite. with adrian pasdar.
mr. mom. 1983. pleasant john hughes comedy. a husband and wife adjust to new roles when he is laid off and must take on the domestic responsibilities while she goes back to work. with michael keaton, terri garr and martin mull.
baby boom. 1987. one yuppie and a baby. in one of several 80s comedies centered on the cut-throat corporate life, a successful corporate ad executive reconsiders priorities when she unexpectedly receives custody of an infant cousin. although exploring balances of women’s working and family life, it is still somewhat contradictory in tone. with diane keaton, harold ramis, james spader and sam shepard. repeated in raising helen (2004).
the secret of my success. 1987. an optimistic small town college graduate moves to new york, only to have his expectations of success in the business world shot down by the inability to find meaningful employment. after convincing his uncle to hire him at his investment firm, he plays dual roles of mailroom clerk and successful business mind to prove his worth in the company. with michael j. fox, helen slater and margaret whitton.
working girl. 1989. a mike nichols comedy about an ambitious secretary stands in for arrogant boss and brokers a major business deal with unsuspecting colleagues. with melanie griffith, harrison ford and sigourney weaver.
surrender. 1987. a writer, convinced that women are only after his money, tests an engaged woman’s loyalty to him by pretending to be insolvent and homeless. the first half of the film is interesting, though the finale, overloaded on hyperbole, is quite dull. repeated in intolerable cruelty (2004). with michael caine, sally field and steve guttenberg.
plain clothes. 1988. a mild 80s comedy about a babyface cop who goes undercover at a high school to investigate a teacher’s murder for which his younger brother is the prime suspect. with arliss howard, seymour cassel and max perlich. similar to undercover (1987). young narcs go undercover at a bayou high school. directed by john stockwell. with jennifer jason leigh.
hiding out. 1987. when a stock broker witnesses a murder, he hides from the assailants by disguising himself as a student at a small town high school that his cousin attends. a terribly idiotic plot, but decent material for fans of cheesy, obscure 80s teen movies. with jon cryer, keith coogan and annabeth gish.
tokyo pop. 1988. a funky, but dated overt criticism of globalization and the disappearance of distinctive cultures. an american singer travels to japan where she joins a japanese rock band that sees the american image as key to being noticed by a famous recod producer. despite some pacing problems and some corny moments, it also offers a gorgeous view of tokyo and a look at 1980s punk and new wave, including a brief live performance of pre-cibbo matto japanese girl rockers, papaya paranoia. with the late carrie hamilton and real japanese rocker, hiroshi kobayashi. similarities to director sophia copola’s lost in translation (2003) (a middle age american actor befriends a young female american tourist in tokyo with whom he develops a subtle romance).
living on tokyo time. 1987. a young rock n’ roll fanatic agrees to marry a young japanese woman for immigration purposes. but, despite their best efforts, extreme cultural divide prevents any lasting relationship.
the outside chance of maxamillian glick. 1988. maxamillian glick, the supposedly rare jewish canadian, narrates a 1960s coming-of-age story ala my summer story (1992). glick, a piano prodigy, is forbidden by his family to partner with an equally talented pianist simply because she’s polish. with fairuzia balk.
84 charing cross road. 1987. an excellent light drama. a quirky new york writer forms a forty year friendship entirely through correspondance with the employees of a quaint second-hand bookstore in england. employs an interesting storytelling technique-since most of the interaction between the main characters are through letters, they eventually stop dubbing as the characters read or write their letters and simply have them speak directly to the camera, cutting back and forth for responses. with anne bancroft, anthony hopkins and judi dench.
tampopo. 1985. a hilarious comedy from the late director, juzo itami, satirizes eastern cultures’ value of food as significant in every aspect of life. the primary plot centers on a woman training ala martial arts movie cliches to be the greatest noodlemaker in the city.
gung ho. 1986. a ron howard comedy. learning that his auto plant company is being taken over by the japanese who want to shut down the plant, a union leader makes a deal to keep the plant open as long as the japanese company is permitted to serve as management. but tensions develop due to the differences of work ethic and general culture. very similar to the tom selleck comedy, mr. baseball (1992). with michael keaton and gedde watanabe.
bagdad cafe. 1987. (aka, out of rosenheim). bizarre, but amusing comedy. when a mysterious german woman arrives at a dive hotel in the desert, she is met with resistance from the loud hotel owner. but as their friendship progresses, her presence causes things to turn around. with cch and jack palance.
streets of gold. 1986. a former soviet union boxer emigrates from to new york to escape persecution. there, he trains two olympic boxing hopefuls reluctnat to work together. great job by klaus maria brandaeur. also with wesley snipes and adrian pasdar.
big shots. 1987. a memorable cheesy 80s dramedy should be commended for allowing more independence of its two young leads. a white kid from the chicago suburbs befriends a fast-talking orphaned black kid from the southside when he gets lost running away after his father’s sudden death. they get involved in a little crime and mystery and, on the side, search for orphan kid’s real father. with darius macracy (“family matters”) and the late paul winfield.
enemy mine. 1985. a science fiction political metaphor. two soldiers from fueding planets-the humans and the dracs-are stranded and must cooperate to survive. but when the drac dies, the human becomes the surrogate guardian to his son who is later kidnapped and enslaved in a labor camp. despite the tolerance theme, there are some moments difficult to digest such as the drac pregnancy. with dennis quaid and louis gossett, jr.
cloak and dagger. 1984. memorable family action film. a young kid witnesses a murder and the victim secretly entrusts him with a video game cartridge containing spy plans. when the kid eventually figures out why stuffy men in suits carrying guns are following him around his texas neighborhood but can’t convince others of the same, he employs the assistance of imaginary war hero jack flack. with henry thomas and dabney coleman.gotcha! 1985. a fine 80s chase thriller. a college freshman’s fraternity paintball spy games come in handy when, on a european vacation, he befriends a seductive russian woman who implicates him in international espionage without his knowing. with anthony edwards and linda florentino. similar to the idiotic comedy, if looks could kill (1991), though a general rule of thumb is to exercise caution when considering richard grieco movies. international spies mistake an arrogant teen vacationing in france for a CIA agent. with linda hunt and roger daltry.
finders keepers. 1984. great, goofy comedy about a flaky rollerderby manager who, feeling his teammates after failing to pay them, takes cover on a train posing as a soldier in custody of the casket of a dead veteran, interfering with a couple of cons who have money hidden there. with michael o’keefe, lou gosset, jr. and beverly d’angelo.
desperately seeking susan. 1985. the stylish comedy from director susan seidelman originally faced much studio delay before being green-lighted. roberta, a lonely housewife seeking vicarious adventure through spunky susan, becomes the target of a violent mixup when a jewelry thief is convinced she is actually susan and has a valuable egyptian earring stolen by his former partner. great comedy, cast and soundtrack. but, unsuccessfully reattempted in who’s that girl (1987). with rossanna arquette, madonna, adian quinn, mark blum and laurie metcalf.
jumping jack flash. 1986. penny marshall’s feature film directorial debut. a computer operator becomes involved in international espionage when a british secret agent mistakenly contacts her through the bank’s computer system. trying to help the agent find an exit contact, she’s trailed by goons of corrupt agents for the british consulate. whoopie goldberg shines performing her shtick. with jonathan pryce, steven collins, annie potts, carol kane, jon lovitz, phil hartman and james belushi.
sticky fingers. 1988. low budget mild comedy. two broke musicians are asked to look after a drug dearl’s bag containing nearly a million dollars. when they get desperate and decide to go on a spending spree, they incur a series of mishaps and are soon trailed by the money’s owners. with helen slater, carol kane and loretta divine. the better alternative is the made-for-TV tim curry comedy, blue money (1982), in which a cab driver/aspiring actor steals money from his gangster passenger and is chased all over the country for its return. with billy connolly.
wiseguys. 1988. director brian de palma’s unconvincing comedy about two mob grunts in big trouble when they stupidly squander their boss’s money at the race track, which they scramble to try and get back. with danny devito, joe piscopo and harvey keitel.
after hours. 1984. great martin scorcese-directed parody of “alice in wonderland.” a guy follows a mysterious woman into an unknown part of the city. eventually scared off by her eerie eccentricities, he tries to get back home, but is constantly interrupted by weirdoes. with griffin dune, rosanna arquette and cheech and chong. similar to search and destroy (1995). a washed up businessman pitches an idea to make a movie about a famed television psychologist. travelling all over the country trying to get financing for the picture, he instead gets mixed up with a bunch of weirdos. with griffin dune, christopher walken, dennis hopper and john tuturo.
three fugitivies. 1989. director francis veber’s remake of his friend comedy, les fugitifs (1986). on the day he’s released from prison, a short-tempered ex-con is accidentally mixed up in an absent-minded bank robber’s desperate attempt to get enough money to keep his daughter from being taken by social services. with martin short and nick nolte.
that sinking feeling. 1980. “there’s got to be more to life than suicide.” in this amusing scottish comedy from director bill forsyth, a bunch of foolish unemployed young men scheme to steal stainless steel sinks froma factory, expecting a big payoff on the black market. still awaiting transfer to DVD and much needed audio enhancement, some of the thick accents and poor sound quality are hard to discern.
hot pursuit. 1987. if john cusak put on a flower print shirt and sunglasses, this would be weekend at bernie’s (1989). a college kid declines his girlfriend’s invitation to join the family on their yacht in the islands for summer vacation, but changes his mind too late. in trying to catch up with them, he becomes involved in consecutive, predictable misadventures of poor timing. may be best for john cusack fans at least. with robert loggia, jerry stiller and ben stiller.
no way out. 1987. a naval officer is the victim of sabotage when his girlfriend, mistress of the secretary of defense, is found dead. good chase sequences. with kevin costner, gene hackman, sean young and bruno kirby.
american gigolo. 1980. richard gere’s breakout role is actually very boring. the story of an upscale gigolo framed for a client’s murder is set to a soundtrack of about fifty versions of blondie’s “call me.” with lauren hutton and hector elizando.
corrupt. 1983. (aka, copkiller). a cheap psychological thriller based on a promising premise, but it’s too bloody long! a corrupt cop constantly spewing a lot of hooey about morals locks up an alleged cop killer in his apartment. gradually developing an obsession with one another, they seemingly exchange personalities as well. with harvey keitel and johnny “rotten” lyndon.
blood simple. 1984. the cohen brother’s first feature film is steeped in double-crosses when a man hires a private detective to kill his wife and her lover. with frances macdormand, m. emmet walsh and dan hedaya.
trust me. 1989. what might’ve been a fitting satire of the art world is actually a dumb comedy that is too long and unfocused. a broke art dealer competing to endorse a humble local artist who has no interest in money, promotes his work without the artist’s knowledge. with adam ant and david packer.
you can’t hurry love. 1989. “LA isn’t a reality, it’s just a state of mind.” cute, romantic comedy. a midwestern guy finds true love difficult in los angeles where, it seems, everyone is “faking it.” with david packer, scott mginnis and bridget fonda.
campus man. 1987. an optimistic business major (with the strange habit of tucking his pants in his socks) denied a scholarship and student loans borrows from an unflinching loan shark-who advertises on phone booths-with the intentions of making a calendar featuring a popular member of the swim team. but the little white lies told to encourage his friend’s participation soon leads to the woes of debt once again. predictable, but offers enough surprises to keep it interesting. with morgan fairchild.
odd jobs. 1984. great, underrated stupid-humor comedy unfortunately loses pace in the finale. four college friends bomb in their respective summer jobs and start a moving company that competes with the mafia monopoly. with paul rieser, scott miginnis and robert townsend.
night shift. 1982. ron howard comedy works well thanks to swell casting. two mismatched night shift employees-a talkative entrepreneur and a timid submissive-turn the city morgue into a successful brothel. with michael keaton, henry winkler, shelly long and richard belzer.
hamburger… the motion picture. 1986. in one of the worst movies ever made, an underachiever expelled from numerous colleges won’t see a penny of his grandfather’s inheritance until he gets his degree. the simple solution: a school for fast food franchising.
the ‘burbs. 1989. classic satire from director joe dante. neighbors in a cul-de-sac investigate their strange, hermit neighbors when one of their own suddenly disappears. with tom hanks, bruce dern, henry gibson, carry fisher, corey feldman and dante movie regulars, dick miller and joe picardi.
road games. 1981. a fairly good aussie hitchcock-esque thriller. a truck driver follows a green van across the outback, convinced that he witnessed the driver commit murder. unfortunately, he becomes obsessed to the point of insanity and confusion. with stacey keach and jamie lee curtis.
roadhouse 66. 1984. in what plays out like duel-lite, a city slicker, holed up in a southwestern town after a run-in with the town’s goons, befriends a hitchhiker who helps him gets revenge. dull film overall, but contains some eye-candy for car lovers and a rare singing performance by willem defoe. with judge rheinhold.
the hitcher. 1985. a young man in a drive-away regrets having offered a ride to a hitchhiker who, as he reveals to the driver, is actually a serial killer who is intent on making him the next victim, but not without at least an hour and a half of good old fashion psychological torment. with c. thomas howell, jennifer jason leigh an rutger hauer. followed by two sequels and a 2007 remake.
quicksilver. 1988. an ace wall street broker loses everything on the stock market intends to avoid major responsibility in the future by switching careers to become a bike messenger. when he witness a coworker’s murder by the drug dealing pimp the co-worked was a courier for, he becomes the next target. needed less drama (particularly getting muddled by the love interest angle) and more action. with kevin bacon, jami gertz and lawrence fishburn.
f/x. 1986. a great 80s action film. special effects specialist, rollie tyler, is hired by the feds to help fake a mafia hitman’s death. instead, he is the unwitting accessory and remaining loose end to inter-departmental corruption which eventually leaves his girlfriend dead and him running for his life. of course, his craft comes in handy for saving the day. with bryan brown, brian dennehy and jerry orbach. followed by the decent sequel, f/x 2 (1990). tyler, now a successful toy inventor, is yet again the target in another undercover project gone wrong. but this one involves bigger stakes and as such, bigger action sequences. the f/x series is also similar to brian depalma’s blow out (1981). a sound man making recordings in the park witnesses the gubernatorial candidate’s car crashing into river. police write it off as suicide but with the help of an insightful prostitute who was involved, he uses his craft to reconstruct the events. with john travolta, nancy allen, dennis franz and john lithgow.
dead calm. 1989. “psycho killer, qu’ est-ce que ce?” excellent thriller of simplicity. a couple on a yacht, recouping from the death of their child, are soon joined by what appears to be the sole survivor of a boat crew. while the husband is off searching the boat for any more survivors or clues as to what happened to the crew, the psychotic stranger torments his wife aboard the yacht. with sam neil, nicole kidman and billy zane.
frantic. 1988. fantastic roman polanski caper. an american couple visiting europe for a medical conference are separated when the wife, in a case of mistaken identity, is kidnapped. with few clues to help the police in their investigation, the husband solicits the help of a young woman familiar with the french underground. with harrison ford. similar to the mediocre target (1985), where a man’s wife is kidnapping while vactioning in europe. when his son insists on partnering with his father to find her, he is forced to admit that he is really a government agent. unfortunately, the movie wastes too much time with boring father-son bonding and ignores opportunities to build up suspense. with gene hackman and matt dillon.
bellman and true. 1987. smart indie british thriller. a computer engineer accepts a bank robber’s bribe for some programming code, assuming his involvement will be brief. but soon, they hold he and his son hostage and force further participation in an elaborate bank heist.
slow burn. 1986. ridiculous made-for-tv tale of redemption. a television reporter’s investigation into the whereabouts of rich artist’s son reveal a deadly kidnapping plot and lots of dirty secrets. with eric roberts, dan hedaya and johnny depp.
cohen & tate. 1989. good character-driven thriller. two hitmen must devlier a young murder witness to their boss. but, the boy wisely exploits the men’s mistrust of one another. with roy scheider, adam baldwin and harley cross.
raising arizona. 1986. well-written cohen brother’s comedy. a well-meaning ex convict and his twice-decorated cop wife wrongly suppose that no one will notice if they kidnapped one of the arizona family’s newborn quituplets. with nicholas cage, holly hunter, william forsythe and john goodman.
without a trace. 1983. a woman spends a year or so searching for her missing six-year old son, even when friends and police assumed he was likely dead. the drama does well with consistent focus. with kate nelligan, judd hirsch and stockard channing.
children of times square. 1984. a made-for-TV drama that is better than most cautionary teen tales, particularly because of the strength of its cast and avoidance of excessive cheesyness. the lives of two teenage boys coincidentally converge when they befriend a sleazy gangster and are inducted into his gang. one is a teen who runs away from his suburban family when he can’t seem to get along with his step-father and his mother fails to be his momentary ally. the second is a teen who is tired of watching his mother struggling to raise he and his young sister with little help and money. eventually, the mother of the first teen desperately searches the city for signs of her son. with brandon douglas, danny nucci and joanna cassidy.
streetwise. 1984. “the only thing bad about flying is coming back down to the fucking earth.” although martin bell and mary ellen mark’s well-made oscar nominated documentary that expands on a feature written for life magazine and focuses on several homeless kids living on the streets of seattle, it likely survives memory for nostalgia rather than significance of content. whereas the more heartbreaking (and more recent) documentary is children underground (2001) which centers on several homeless children living in dilapidated, urban romania.
times square. 1980. indie cult classic about the revolt of the tragically alienated could have been much better. a homeless girl befriends a rich runaway and together, they raise hell as the “slease sisters,” a sort of punk rock band. with tim curry.
the runnin’ kind. 1989. an ohio yuppie travels to los angeles on a whim to escape his uptight parents and search for a female drummer he met in a bar one night. there, he befriends an all-girl punk band who eventually recruit him as their manager and introduce to spontaneous adventure. with david packer and rocker, pleasant graham.
nighthawks. 1981. the movie that made rutger hauer a star. a terrorist, abandoned by his own, tests his invicibility against the new york city cops trained by interpol to track him down. with sylvester stalone and dee dee williams.
shoot to kill. 1988. fantastic thriller needs no fancy effects. when a fugitive killer hides among a hiking tour, a cop teams up wtih the hiking guide’s nature-smart husband to find him. with sidney portier, tom berenger and kirstie alley.
lucas. 1986. corey haim’s finest starring role. a young teen braniac and loner has a crush on an older nercomer he befriends one summer, but is worried she’ll forget about him when she begins dating the captain of the football team. with kerri green, charlie sheen and winnona ryder. similar to the year my voice broke (1987), a great, but sad aussie drama. danny, a young teen (with a dope rockabilly look) of the 1960s has a crush on his only friend, but she falls for the town’s rambunctious “outlaw.” with noah tyler and ben mendeslon. followed by flirting (1991). now in boarding school hell, danny befriends the lone black girl at the neighboring girl school, stirring conflict among the conventional-minded faculty. with noah taylor, thandlwe adjewa and nicole kidman.
say anything… . 1989. “don’t be a guy. the world is full of guys. be a man.” a witty teen with few prospects dates an ambitious, brainy girl after high school graduation. but her father, wary that he might jeopardize her pre-scheduled life plans, seeks to curb the relationship while, at the same time dodging the IRS on suspicion of embezzlement. classic teen 80s romantic comedy that, despite good performances, tends to get a little over-the-top. with john cusak, ione skye, john mahoney, lilli taylor and joan cusak.
better off dead. 1985. witty, absurdist teen comedy from director savage steve holland. when his girl dumps him for the captain of the ski team, lane meyer, impulsive and chivalrous but a dreadful skier, challenges him to race the formiddable 12K. great secondary characters. and partially animated. with john cusak and curtis armstrong. followed by holland’s similar plot in one crazy summer (1986). lane meyer has a new name: hoops mccaan. hoops, not the basketball prodigy his name suggests, joins his buddies at the beach after graduation. there, he befriends a young singer who needs to raise money to save her land inheritance from some sleazy real estate speculators. with john cusak and demi moore.
no small affair. 1984. like an 80s version of the jack lemmon/judy holiday it should happen to you (1954). a loner teen into amateur photography befriends an older, aspiring singer, quietly falls in love with her, and helps her get famous. with jon cryer, demi moore, george wendt and tim robbins.
in the mood. 1987. (aka, the woo woo kid). the allegedly true story of of sonny elsworth wisecarver, the teen heartthrob who shared headlines with hitler. 15-year old sonny, determined to “meet a nice girl his own age” instead charms older, married women. his affairs become exaggeratingly probed by the media and law enforcement. great period satire perfect for patrick dempsey fans. with michael constantine, brian macnamara and a bit part by max perhlich. similar to loverboy (1989). when he flunks out of college and his dad refuses to continue paying tuition, a guy takes a pizza delivery job and earns a reputation as a gigolo to the bored housewives of beverly hills who teach him (pardon the cliche) “what women want.” meanwhile, his folks hastily drawn the wrong conclusion about his secret double life. enjoyable, typical dempsey shtick. with carrie fisher, kirstie alley and barbara carrera.
can’t buy me love. 1987. a teen geek bribes his popular dream girl to pretend she’s going out with him in hopes of achieving popularity-by-association. but, introduction into the A-crowd had its price. cliched, but well done. repeated for the dismal love don’t cost a thing (2004). with patrick dempsey and amanda peterson.
some kind of wonderful. 1987. from pretty in pink director howard deutch and writer john hughes, a shy teen asks his dream girl out when she breaks up with her sleazy boyfriend. she accepts out of pity; he acts out of spite. and all the while, he’s been ignoring the perfect girl for him. unfortunately, most of the cast was too old to play teenagers. with eric stolz, lea thompson, mary stuart masterson and craig sheffer.
the sure thing. 1985. road trip comedy from director rob reiner. two college classmates travelling together to california, one lured by the promise of “a sure thing” and the other visiting her snobbish boyfriend, are initially poor company for each other, but get closer after sharing misadventures ala ‘the out of towners’. with john cusak, daphne zuniga and anthony edwards.
about last night… . 1986. droll drama about two 20-somethings in a new relationship would be more believable if rob lowe’s character wasn’t such a pre-puebescent ass. it also includes typical battle of the sexes relationship disucssion and enough sex scenes to make viewers cross-eyed. with demi moore, jim belushi and elizabeth mcgovern.
the rachel papers. 1989. british ferris bueller styled cassanova tests his macking skills on a young teacher. the first half is comedy; the second half detours into straight drama. with dexter fletcher, ione skye, jonathan pryce and james spader.
prince of bel-air. 1986. made for TV movie that is typical mark harmon material. a charming californian pool man falls for his fanancier’s neice and is forced to reconsider his bachelor lifestyle and work habit. with kirstie alley and patrick labyorteaux.
nobody’s fool. 1986. hilarious comedy. a young woman suffocating from her small town life is encouraged by a new beau to stop trying to live up to other’s expectations and figure out what she wants, knowing she’s destined for something better. with rosanna arquette, eric roberts and mare winningham.
ollie hopnoodle’s haven of bliss. 1988. one of two anachronistic sequels to the 1983 holiday classic, a christmas story. in this made-for-TV movie (not directed by bob clark like the other two films in the series), jean shepard narrates the story of 14-year old ralphie parker and the events leading up to the family’s annual summer camping trip at ollie hopnoddle’s. with jerry o’connell. my summer story (1994) (aka, it runs in the family). move over scott farkus, second grader ralphie parker has a new foe in town who tests his masculinity in a heated tops war. the more interesting sequences involve the subplot of the indiana housewives going to a theater each week, promised by a salesman that they’ll soon build up an entire collection of celebrity autographed dinnerware. but they always return with the same gravy boat. with kieran culkin, charles grodin and mary steenburgen.
how to be a perfect person in just three days. 1983. from the PBS wonderworks series, an accident-prone kid takes lessons from an accentric inventor in self-improvement. good performance by wallace shawn. with ilan-mitchell smith.
pretty in pink. 1986. nice john hughes drama (especially with cult favorite characters iona played by annie potts and duckie played by jon cryer), but the audience-approved ending was quite cheesy. a headstrong teen dates an A-crowd yuppie and never doubts herself even when he does. with molly ringwald, andrew mccarthy, james spader and harry dean stanton.
windrider. 1986. an aussie dramedy about an avid young windsurfer has the world around his finger until a failed relationship with a singer disrupts his perfect timing. with nicole kidman.the big blue. 1988. in writer/director luc besson’s surrealistic drama, a world champion diver and his childhood friend vie for the title. while his love of diving is purely competitive, his friend has a different sort of connection to the sport. features gorgeous mediterranean locations. with jean reno, rosanna arquette and jean-marc barr.
white water summer. 1987. lord of the rings trilogy was not the first time sean astin was filming in new zealand. filmed primarily on location there, a new age camp counselor brings four city-bred teens on a hiking trip. but his intended lessons in self-esteem and manhood go too far. the release of the film was delayed so astin could age for the narrative interludes. with kevin bacon and matt adler.
vision quest. 1985. a poor adaptation of the terry davis novel. high school wrestler louden swain, on the eve of turning 18, plans to make his mark by wrestling in impossible heavyweight. but, he gets distracted when he falls in love with an older woman who temporarily stays with he and his father while passing through on her way to san francisco. in the novel, the wrestling team serves as a metaphorical connection to friendship while the movie frequently focuses on a teenager desperate to get laid. with matthew modine, linda florentino and michael schoeffling.
youngblood. 1986. it is likely that the casting of this crappy movie will lure viewers. a hotshot rookie on a canadian hockey team must prove himself to recruiters and his coach, who’s daughter he’s sleeping with. with rob lowe, patric swayze and keanu reeves.
johnny be good. 1988. a bottom-of-the-barrell comedy. an obnoxious all-star high school football player is courted in luxury by college recruiters. so much bad acting my anthony michael hall and incoherent babbling by robert downey, jr. with uma thurman.
all the right moves. 1983. a small town high school football player is blackballed by his coach after getting caught in a prank. comments on the difference of post-secondary education options for certain classes of students: free ride for athletes, few options for those engaged in other activities. with tom cruise, craig t. nelson and lea thompson. similar to friday night lights (2004) (based on the true story of a late 80s high school football team in a texas town where the sport is an obsession, it is now a prime time television series; with billy bob thorton, derek luke and lucas black); the program (1993) (football players deal with the demands of playing for a star university team; with craig scheffer and james caan); and varisty blues (1999) (a star-rated high school football team loses one of its lead players and must defend its title under the new leadership of a quarterback who questions their texas town’s football insanity; with james van der beek and jon voight).
american flyers. 1985. two estranged brothers reunite to train and compete in a bike race. one keeps secret his fatal brain tumor. great bike race footage. with kevin costner and rae dawn chong.
rad. 1986. extremely corner 80s homage to BMX is complete with bike dancing at the prom. a teen skips the SATs to race in a downhill competition. terribly dated, but serves for nostalgia if nothing else. with lori laughlin and ray walston.
BMX bandits. 1983. family-safe but not-so-corny aussie adventure is abundant in chuckle humor, stunts, and a fairly decent plot: three teens needing cash for new bikes and a street course sell a cache of walkie talkies they found tied to a boat. however, their bumbling owners go to great lengths to get back the merchandise. with nicole kidman.
best of the best. 1989. american martial arts movie that can’t avoid the cliches of the genre. one guy on the US martial arts team prepares to compete against the skilled korean karate champ that killed his brother years earlier in a fight. with eric roberts, phillip rhee and james earl jones.
sports cartoons. 1985. great-made for TV compilation of cartoon shorts is rumored to be in talks for a DVD release. it center on several animal characters playing various sports including a pacifist hippo, a clever dog, and two instigating cats.
the wizard. 1989. a shameless vehicle to promote nintendo’s most popular selling 1988 game, super mario bros. 3. when a kid’s step brother is institutionalized, he busts him out and they hitchhike to california. on the way, they partner with a sassy girl who convinces the half-brother to compete in the nintendo championships. great slapstick subplot focuses on the father and eldest brother competing with a bumbling bounty hunter hired by the ex-wife to locate the kids. with fred savage, luke edwards, beau bridges, christian slater and rilo kiley frontwoman, jenny lewis.
knightriders. 1981. george romero’s unique cult classic about a traveling renaissance fair (which includes motorcycle jousting!). tensions rise among the performing team when a talent agent offers to act as manager and market them for bigger audiences. a bit too long. with ed harris and tom savini.
gleaming the cube. 1989. cold war skate action-drama. a trademark skateboarding slacker teen investigates his brother’s death, unconvinced he committed suicide. stunts peformed by powell-peralta’s bones brigade and tony hawk has a small role as the teen’s friend. with christian slater and max perlich.
thrashin’ 1986. a cheesy romeo and juliet cliche. by-the-book rival skaters butt heads over one’s sister. classic pro skaters christian hosoi, per linder, tony alva and the bones brigade team perform stunts. with josh brolin and robert russler.
goin’ off. 1988. tony roberts’ great forty-some minute video featuring street and vert skating around southern california’s pavement paradise. features pro skaters jaya banderov and steve caballero and includes an awesome soundtrack. ‘no limits’ is the sister surf movie. the first promo for blockhead skateboards is another treat, mixing old school skate footage with a slick old punk soundtrack.
search for animal chin. 1987. first of many of the bones brigade mini-movies directed by peralta. the team travels the world in search of the mythical founder of skateboarding – animal chin. followed by public domain, future primitive, ban this and more.
north shore. 1987. a cult classic that finally made it to DVD, albeit almost in bare-bones form. a cocky surfer from the wave tanks of arizona visits the north shore of hawaii and gets fast lessons in surfing and territorial locals. cliched but thrives on a good cast and great cinematography (shot in 16mm for a documentary effect). with matt adler, gregory harrison, nia peeples, and john philbin and pro surfers laird hamilton, gerry lopez, robby page and mark occhulopo, among others.
aloha summer. 1988. light nostalgic comedy. four teens visiting hawaii with their families in the 1960s make friends, chase girls, surf and deal with stubborn fathers. with chris makepeace.
under the boardwalk. 1989. surf-styled version of trashin’ (1986) has some redeeming qualities (i.e. the party scene) despite a lame story and dumb dialog that sounds as though studio executives read a slang dictionary. locals and valley surfers feud while one falls for the main local’s sister. with keith coogan and roxanna zahl.
surf nazis must die! 1987. a terrible troma film even by troma standards. fascist fashion victim surfers are avenged by mama washington after they kill her son.
surf 2. 1984. the title is a misnomer: there is no ‘surf 1′. troma-influenced b-comedy offers originality and laughs. a nerd living under the beach plots revenge on all those who shunned him. his weapon: a soft drink that transformers people into mutant zombies. with eric stolz and eddie deezen. similar to strange brew: the adventures of bob and doug mackenzie (1983). based ont he SC-TV skits, it rivals michael moore’s (yes, that michael moore) canadian bacon (1994) as the ultimate repository of candian stereotypes and is a variation of hamlet. two clueless, beer-guzzling brothers hired at a brewery unkowingly interfere with the brewmaster’s plan to thwart the brewery heir from claiming her inheritance. with dave thomas, rick moranis, paul dooley and max von sydow.
who’s harry crumb? 1989. funny lazy ‘noon comedy. a detective’s partner underestimates the crime-solving abilities of his doofus partner who unwittingly interferes with his dastardly schemes. with john candy, jeffrey jones and annie potts.
buddy, buddy. 1981. weak walter matthau-jack lemmon buddy up from director billy wilder. an acerbic hitman plots an assassination from his hotel room, which neighbors that of a guy attempting suicide upon learning of his wife’s affair. the hitman suddenly becomes entangled in his problems after only trying to get him to shut up.
vibes. 1986. cute, innocuous comedy. two mis-matched psychics hired to locate the energy source for psychic powers are chased by two goons in search of the same. with peter falk, jeff goldbum and cyndi lauper.
scanners. 1981. when the scanners–those with the ability of fatal mental manipulation– join forces, one of the scanners not under their control is sought by a doctor to destroy them, knowing no regular person could match their force. memorable science fiction from director david cronenberg, but most notably for the great special effects. with michael ironside. followed by scanners 2: the new order (1991) and scanners 3: the takeover (1992), a 2008 remake, and the mid-90s scanner cop spinoffs.
norman’s awesome experince. 1988. a rockability scientist, an obnoxious swedish photographer and a model travel through time. in their ceaseless bickering, they split up and play around with the past. kind of slow, but offers some b-movie novelty.
time bandits. 1981. another great production from director terry gillam. a boy who finds a time portal in his dresser time travels with a bunch of rambunctious treasure-hunting dwarves. with sean connery, john cleese and shelly duvall.
peggy sue got married. 1986. francis ford coppola directs this comedy of a divorcee feints who her high school reunion and wakes up in the past, reliving her days as a high school student. but conscious of her transformation, she befriends the class brainiac to help get her back to the present. good lazy afternoon material. with kathleen turner, nicholas cage, joan allen and jim carey.
my science project. 1985. a teen car-jock scouting an abandoned military testing ground looking to pass off something as a science project finds a gadget that disrupts dimensions of time. a good premise, but could’ve been better with a bigger budget. with john stockwell, fisher stevens and dennis hopper.
bill and ted’s excellent adventure. 1989. high school underachievers and future heroes of the planet must time travel in a phone booth to pick up historical figures for a most excellent history final if they want to keep from being separated when one of the friend’s father threatens to send him to military school if he flunks. great idea, great soundtrack. with keanu reeves, alex winter and george carlin. followed by bill and ted’s bogus journey (1991), originally entitled bill and ted go to hell. this time, the duo are sabotaged by a villain from the future who creates bill and ted replicas to destroy the real bill and ted’s lives. william sadler is terrific as the grim reaper.
back to the future trilogy. 1985 – 1990. robert zemeckis and bob gale pen and direct a remarkable time traveling trilogy. teen marty mcfly’s friend, doc brown, has turned his delorean into a time machine. in part one, teenager marty mcfly accidentally travels to 1955 where he intervenes in his teenage parent’s relationship while coordinating with 1950s doc brown to get back to the present. in the second, doc brown ignores his own warnings about meddling in destiny. while traveling to the future to prevent a disaster involving marty’s son, marty buys a sports almanac much to the chagrin of doc brown. but when future biff gets hold of it and steals the delorean to give the almanac to his teenage self, it creates an alternative 1985. in the third, marty and doc brown go to the old west where mcfly is challenged to a gunslinging duel with the outlaw maddog tannon. with michael j. fox, christopher lloyd, lea thompson, elizabeth shue and thomas f. wilson.
the night before. 1988. an awful comedy about an amnesia-inflicted teen who slowly pieces together clues to the whereabouts of his prom date. terrible acting by both keanu reeves and lori laughlin. similar to chris nolan’s terrific thriller, memento (2000). a man with no long-term memory leaves himself clues to track down his wife’s murderer. with guy pierce, carrie ann moss and joe pantoliano.