Tuesday, December 13, 2005

80s Series - Top 20 Nostalgia Movies

So I had the awesomest birthday dinner the other night with friends. Most of us being from the generation that had its childhood in the embarrassingly 80s-ish 80s, we ended up talking a lot about the shows and movies we grew up on. Afterwards, we headed into our fabulous home theater to watch some really great movie. Something obscure, classic, interesting, exciting. We were going to have a vote. I had Dr. Strangelove and Dial M for Murder, one friend brought Office Space and Refer Madness, one friend brought The Interpreter and another brought 13 Conversations About One Thing. So many great flicks to choose from! While we were waiting on someone, the hubby popped in Ghostbusters to continue the boogie down memory lane we had been doing. By the time everyone was seated and ready, everyone was so thoroughly full of ectoplasmic nostalgia that we ended up watching all of Ghostbusters instead of any of the other amazing options. Afterwards we tried to list all of the great 80s movies we could remember. And there are now requests for an 80s series to be played next year at the Hurley-David Cineplex. Well, we'll see about that one, but I thought I would do an 80s series on the blog.

Each post, I will put a list of top 20 80s movies for a particular category. This post: Nostalgia movies. Come on! Put on your best Madonna, MJ, or Prince shirt, bring the lightsaber, hop in my DeLorean, and let's ride our bikes past the moon!

Criteria for choosing movies for this list:
1. It must have been released in the 80s.
2. I must have seen this movie in the 80s.
3. Watching or thinking about this movie must take me back to the era. Either by being very 80s in feel, or by reminding me of my experience of the 80s.

You will notice that there are some major 80s movies that don't appear on the list. That is because of one or more of the following reasons:
1. The movie didn't do anything for me.
2. I forgot about it.
3. I didn't see it until later (or never at all).
4. I had to narrow down a list of 260 80s movies that I could remember seeing, so, it doesn't remind me of the 80s as much as these ones do.

By the way, I may put movies on more than one list. Because, well... because I can. Now, let's get on with it...

20. Short Circuit (Badham, 1986)
How could you not get the warm and fuzzies from watching a movie about a robotic WMD that acquires life through a freak accident, escapes the weapons facility, and is subsequently hunted by the authorities? Robot "Number 5" (Johnny 5 to his buddies) is just a misunderstood infant, having to run when he only just learned to walk. He only wants to be allowed to live and maybe make some friends along the way. Oh yeah, and he has a voracious appetite for "input, input, need more input!" This one killed me as a kid. All the corny one-liners, the Indian guy with the awesomely immitatable accent, the social commentary. (whuh?) Thanks to this movie, I was able to sling new verbal arrows at my fellow classmates, who had no idea what hit them when I shouted, "Hey Laser Lips! Your mama was a snowblower!" Hey, did anyone else notice how much this robot looks suspiciously like E.T. without his skin? Did they use the same creature shop for both movies? Something to think about.

19. Top Gun (Scott, 1986)
TC at his best. Wise cracks, sideways smirks, sexy glances, goofy serenades, bold flirtation, and rockin, riding-off-into-the-sunset-on-his-motorcycle shots. What could be better for a pubescent girl who had a poster of Tom Cruise that covered half her ceiling? This movie not only taught me the importance of being a good wingman, but I also learned some new variations on the high five that were previously unseen in my corner of England. I also learned to look at the guys on our military base a little differently - especially the uniformed ones. "I feel the need, the need for speed!" Woo!

18. Flash Gordon (Hodges, 1980)
A great campy sci-fi flick replete with over-the-top costumes, ridiculous scenery, and absurd dialog. "Flash! Flash! I love you, but we only have 14 hours to save the Earth!" Fantastic, B-movie quality stuff. I loved it and it's bad effects, it's winged warriors, it's fake-Asian, heavy-eye-liner wearing, villainous ruler, and it's toe-headed, sparkle-eyed, all-American hero. Oh! And the theme song is one of Queen's all-time best. "Flash! Ah-ahhhhh... Savior of the universe!"

17. Adventures in Babysitting (Columbus, 1987)
That other great Elisabeth with an 's' as the reluctant hero on a mythological journey straight out of Joseph Campbell's research. The only catch this time, is that the hero has a couple of brats in tow, and the journey is a trek through a treacherous sky-scraper jungle. This movie rocks.

16. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg, 1981)
Our introduction to Dr. Jones, Indiana Jones - the guy we came to know and love for two (and apparently soon three) further movies. He is my favorite kind of hero. He's sarcastic, smooth, calm (unless surrounded by snakes), and gorgeous. He knows the worth of a leather fedora (which he values about as much as his hand), he knows how to outrun a massive ball of stone, escape any danger, outsmart any villain, all with charm and wit. He's like a scruffy, American, more visceral Bond. (with a whip!)

15. Rocky III (Stallone, 1982)
Same Rocky, with an added dose of camp thanks to Mr. T. "I pity the fool!" Can I just say that I loved him? Him and his weird mohawk-sportin, gold-chain-wearing, tough-talkin self? Loved him here, loved him on the A-team. Remember how he was tough, badass, but also made you want to hug him and his pouty self? Or was that just me? I think the world could do with a little Mr. T right now. Too many action stars are too serious anymore.

14. ¡Three Amigos! (Landis, 1986)
I was blissfully ignorant to the negative, social side-affects that movies like this could have for latins - or other races. (As you can see by my unaffected love for the other movies on this list.) If I saw this movie for the first time now, I am sure I would wax academic about the reduction of Mexicans to a people who's only means of self-preservation lies in utilizing their only skills (sewing - an utterly domestic ability) and who can only be saved with the help white men, no matter how clueless those white men are. In fact, from this movie we see that Mexicans are either simple, sewing villagers, or gun-toting, bullet-belt-wearing, pistol-shooting, "arriba"-and-"andale" screaming maniacs. (Or no, wait, that last one was Speedy Gonzalez.) But let's forget all that and focus on the fond memories we have of the fun of this movie. And hey! Thanks to this movie, I learned the meaning of the word "plethora."

-"Would you say I had a plethora of piñatas?"
-"Oh yes, El Guapo. You have a plethora."
-"Jefe, what is a plethora?"
-"Why, El Guapo?"
-"Well, you just told me that I had a plethora, and I would just like to know if you know what it means to have a plethora. I would not like to think that someone would tell someone else he has a plethora, and then find out that that person has no idea what it means to have a plethora."

13. Xanadu (Greenwald, 1980)
Hey, I love campy movies, I love musicals, I love guilty pleasures. And this movie is probably at the top of my all-time greatest guilty pleasure movies list. First of all, how great is Gene Kelly in this movie? And how awesomely tacky is it to mix greek goddesses with roller-skating? This movie screams 80s for me, and as a rule I always watch it if it comes on TV. Funny though, not sure I have seen it on TV once since I moved to the States. Hmmm.... Brits must have a better sense for camp. (Or am I hopelessly lacking in taste like the Brits? I think I will go with Option A please. Brits share my awesome appreciation of camp aesthetics)

12. Tron (Lisberger, 1982)
I miss movies that are as unabashedly stylized and hokey as this one. When I was a kid, I think this was the coolest movie I had ever seen. I mean, how freakin great was it when they were racing on those motorbike things, drawing out neon patterns behind them? This is really a precursor to The Matrix, and though I absolutely love The Matrix (the first one), I think Tron was just sooooooooo much more fun.

11. The Never Ending Story (Petersen, 1984)
Ok, so you may have noticed by now that, by and large, my nostalgia movies from the 80s are all kid/family flicks. Well, yeah! I was a kid! And just like today, I loooooooooved movies. This was probably one of my absolute favorites. It taught me the ability of movies to give you real escape, and how far imagination could take you. How beautiful is that? And what in all the 80s was cooler than that big, friendly, flying dog-dragon? Hmmm... maybe I should have put this movie higher up on my list.

10. Big (Marshall, 1988)
#10! Halfway there!
Adulthood through the eyes of a child in the late 80s. I love the innocence in Tom Hanks's eyes. But was I the only one who was creeped out that the 13 year old (allbeit in the body of a 30 year old) had a sexual relationship with that woman? At least that is better than the reverse in Birth. That movie is so creepy in a bad way. But Big not only mad me laugh and gave me an awesome musical number (the duet on the oversized keyboard, remember?), but also gave me a little glimpse of the American childhood culture that I was missing in Europe.

9. Gremlins (Dante, 1984)
This movie did the impossible: it functioned as both a B-horror flick and a family film. Genius! The critters are both evil and scary AND cute and cuddly (and totally marketable) thanks to a plot mechanism that allows them to go from nice to naughty. But not Gizmo of course. We love him, so he can never go over to the, ahem, other side. He has to stay our furry little friend who shrieks "Bright light! Bright light!"

8. Back to the Future (Zemeckis, 1985)
Must be one of my all-time favorite 80s movies. We watch it every time it comes on TV even though we own the trilogy DVD set. It has everything - Michael J. Fox, the brilliant Christopher Lloyd in what is quite possibly his best performance, contemporary music & buyable theme song, skateboarding tricks, a new way of working through the Oedipus Complex, and a healthy dose of diegetic (contained in the world of the movie) nostalgia. And it's chock full of 80s references (especially by comparison with the 50s). The only reason this movie isn't higher up the list is because I have seen it so many times since the 80s that it doesn't really remind me much of the 80s anymore so much as just the experience of a great adventure. (But on the other hand, I couldn't leave it out altogether, could I? It had to be on the list!)

7. E.T. (Spielberg, 1982)
Is this not one of the greatest movies of all time? Don't we all just love that Reese's Pieces eating, home-phoning little alien? And how cute was Drew Barrymore? She says in interviews now that, while filming E.T., she would speak to the alien between takes, because she believed he was real. How cute is that? I think a lot of us in the audience (and yes, I was a little kid) believed he was real too. And don't lie! You got choked up at the end too, didn't you?

6. Ghostbusters (Reitman, 1984)
I always played the rockin theme-song on any jukebox I saw. I had the VHS box-set of both the movies. I bought the ectoplasm. I watched the cartoon. I drew the logo in my doodles. I LOVED this movie. As hokey as it may be, I still do. I loved Peter and his dry sarcasm, Winston and his realist perspective, Ray and his naïve enthusiasm, and Egon and his hopeless nerdiness. This may be the movie that helped me to develop crushes on nerdy men. Sorry babe, you may well be my latin Egon. I loved the ghosts, the comedy, the drama, and for me, yes, this movie was a little scary. (Not in the truly frightening way, since I have told many of you that I haven't been scared by a movie since The Wiz but this movie was more exciting for it's ghosts than truly scary.) And it contained a reference to my then-favorite food:

-Tell him about the Twinkie
-What about the Twinkie?

5. Superman III (Lester, 1983)
What's better than Superman coming to earth, growing up to save the day & getting the girl? Superman with Richard Pryor! As a seemingly gormless scientist, Pryor gets in over his head a bit, ends up on the wrong side of the good/bad divide, and adds a little comedy to Superman's struggle along the way. Even better than that, this installment of the series could really be named, "Superman: The Soap Opera." Guess what? He now has an evil twin! Ha!

4. Karate Kid (Avildsen, 1984)
One summer in the Faroes (where my Mom is from, and where I spent many summers growing up), before I realized what I was missing by staying indoors in such an amazing place, I spent many days watching Karate Kid, and Superman III. Well, mostly Karate Kid. In fact, I watched it so much that I could recite nearly the entire movie from memory. -- Hey! I wasn't an active kid, this is what I loved! Not sure why it didn't inspire me to become active and take up martial arts. You'd think... But it didn't. "Daniel-san! You all wet behind ear! Ah-haha-ha -ha -ha -ha haaaa." Mr. Miyagi rocked! Was it not the coolest thing you had seen when Mr. Miyagi opened a can of whoopass? I don't think anything has come close till Yoda did the same in the new Star Wars movies. Although that would have been better if it was the Yoda, not that CG crap.

3. Footloose (Ross, 1984)
Was 1984 not a good year for cheeseball movies? Good for me at least. And as far as I'm concerned, you can't go wrong with musicals. Especially musicals that are fun to sing along to. Gosh I remember thinking that Kevin Bacon was such a great dancer with that ubiquitous 80s-jazz-ballet dance he (and everyone else) did. Eeeewwww... Good thing I never tried to imitate it! Maybe I did and just blocked it out of my memory. This movie is also notable for being one of the last times we ever took John Lithgow seriously. Remember how intense he was? I really believed him as an overpowering dad and 'father.' Now I think I would laugh at him no matter what he did. Well, at least that's because he's good at being funny. It would be sad if it were because he was a sucky actor. (PS I love that they made a musical out of a true story.)

2. Mr. Mom (Dragoti, 1983)
I can remember watching this one when I was real little. I remember wondering why the kid called his blanket a "woobie" and why he took it with him everywhere. I remember having no idea what The Young and the Restless was, but still finding the parody of it funny. I remember understanding that the boss-guy was a total scuzz, and thinking that drying a baby's butt with a hand-dryer in a public bathroom was the funniest thing ever. That and the soap bubbles pouring out from the washing machine and filling up the house. Ahhhhh.... memories....

Drumroll please.......................................................

1. The Goonies (Donner, 1985) Ta da!
There is no other single movie that can conjure up memories for me like The Goonies. I watched this movie a lot. And I made all my little British friends (I grew up in England) watch it too. We watched it one year for my annual Halloween sleep-over. Which many of my friends still thought was my birthday, since they didn't do Halloween over there (and certainly not Halloween parties.) I remember several preteen bodies packed like sardines between the arms of the couch backrest that we had on the floor (it was sort of a multi-piece foam couch that came apart, and the back and arms were one piece. I loved being on the floor at the time (sleeping, sitting, etc..) so we tossed that on the floor and all of us crowded in.) If one of us wanted back in the pile after a trip to the bathroom, we'd have to step between knees and thighs, and feet to find our place again. The Goonies, tacos, twinkies, pickles, Kraft Mac & Cheese, and Halloween parties, were my gifts to England. And what better way is there for England to understand American culture than by watching Chunk do the truffle shuffle, Mikey using his inhaler while his brother lifted weights, Mouth freaking out the latin maid who speaks no English, and by seeing a very dysfunctional family with a disfigured son that they have chained in the basement who screams, "Hey you gu-uys!"???

And now for the runners up...
21. Three Men and a Baby - Remember how silly it was to think of men taking care of babies?
22. Beetlejuice - Fun in the underworld.
23. Cocktail - Top Gun in the Bahamas, twirling booze bottles instead of planes.
24. Dirty Dancing - Nobody puts Baby in the corner!
25. Splash - Fish can be hot!
26. The Money Pit - Best scene: Tom Hanks singing "the Name Game" while stuck in a hole in the floor.
27. See No Evil, Hear No Evil - Making fun of debilitations and color. "What???? I'm black????" - genius!
28. Roxanne - a.k.a. Cyranno De Bergerac for Dummies. Also: humor with unfortunate facial features.
29. Labyrinth - Puppets, a maze, the bog of eternal stench, and David Bowie.
30. Flight of the Navigator - Sci Fi for kids.

Well, that's all folks. See ya next time.

Back to the full blog...


Elisabeth said...

I wanna hear your lists!

Colleen said...

Goonies is one of the best movies ever made! We called Little Michael "Chunk" for years after that movie came out - fortunately I think he has forgotten, or he would be blaming us for some kind of trauma, I'm sure.

I saw a roller rink movie with your sisters (so I guess that makes it a 70s movie?) that had Scott Baio and I think Patrick Swayze in it. I remembered it when I read about Xanadu. I can't think of the name but the theater was packed. Talk about campy!!!

The new design is great! I'm sick as a dog today and will hopefully work on fixing my blog with that code you sent this weekend. I feel awful right now!

Teddi said...

I don't have a great memory, but some 80s movies that come to mind are:

teen wolf (1985) - I was totally in love with Michael J. Fox

karate kid (1984) - wax on, wax off

gremlins (1984) Awww, gizmo!

the breakfast club (1985) high school angst

flashdance (1983) love those legwarmers, lol. I especially loved that she had a "man's" job and was still feminine.

crockodile dundee (1986) pretty ridiculous, but reminds me of the 80s.

dirty dancing (1987) I wanted to be baby :)

purple rain (1984) Prince is an 80s icon, how could I not include this movie?

bill and ted's excellent adventure (1989) whoa! bodacious! dude!

the little mermaid (1989) I tried to remember a cartoon movie from the 80s that I liked :).


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