Wednesday, January 04, 2006

80s Series - Top 20 Teen Movies

If you didn't notice the teen-movie craze in the 80s, you just weren't paying attention to the world around you. You probably also missed the shoulder pads and hair bands. No other movie trend took hold in the 80s like the teen movie. In the "me" decade, teens couldn't have fit in better with the idealogy of the time, so catering to them in movies just made sense.

Criteria for this list:

1. The movie had to have been released in the 80s.
2. I have to have seen it & thought it memorable.
3. It had to be focused on high-school or college age kids.

Bitchin! Now, let's get started...

20. For Keeps (Avildsen, 1988)
Molly Ringwald was queen of 80s teen flicks. This is one of her lesser-known roles as half of a crazy-in-love pair of teens who decide to try to make it on their own when she becomes pregnant. Whooops! The couple is so hopelessly cute and twitterpated, you can't help but pull for them. This movie is great fare for a lazy, pre-menstrual afternoon.

19. Girls Just Want to Have Fun (Metter, 1985)
Very young Helen Hunt & Sarah Jessica Parker before they became 'it' actresses of the 90s and 00s. Here they just boogie to their own beat in this wannabe Footloose. Cute stuff. Nice and fluffy. Check out how young Shannon Doherty is!

18. A Nightmare on Elm Street (Craven, 1984)
How scary to be a teen. They are always the ones to bite it in horror movies. Why is that? Because horror movies have historically been morality pics aimed at reckless teens, and because if you want teens to pay to make out in the back of your theater, you have to give them a movie that is relevant to them. I just like this series because, unlike the other horror flicks that try to be truly dark and frightening, this one has a serious sense of humor. It's its own parody!

17. Some Kind of Wonderful (Deutch, 1987)
Ahhh... to be young and in love. Nice, isn't it? Though not without complications. I mean, Mary Stuart Masterson loves good buddy Eric Stolz, Eric Stoltz thinks he loves Lea Thompson, but Lea Thompson is peed-on territory of hunky-rich-jerk, Craig Sheffer. Who will get their desired love? So sweet, surprisingly complex, and I love that the girl doesn't get the guy by totally changing her dress & personality.

16. Mask (Bogdanovich, 1985)
Cutie Eric Stolz again! Only sacrificing huge cuteness for deep emotions. He wants what every teenager wants: love, acceptance. Only now he has massive deformities in his way. Yet he remains utterly charming in this utterly endearing movie.

15. Once Bitten (Storm, 1985)
Jim Carrey in an early role as a regular teen who wants to suck neck - with his fangs! Yet another transformation film in the vein of Teen Wolf. Jim Carrey is fantastic. Not over-the-top as in later films, he is still funny, yet attractive and approachable! Who wouldn't want a little nibble on their necks from this guy, I ask you?

14. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (Herek, 1989)
Guess what? Keanu Reeves's droning, dopey, wooahh-dude voice made sense once! We didn't know it would be all he was capable of when this movie came out. We just thought he fit the roll perfectly. He was excellent! (air guitar riff) And the movie was anything but bogus. Party on dudes!

13. War Games (Badham, 1983)
You know, I have only seen this once, and don't remember it all that well, but it is so beloved and remembered by so many others, I had to include it. I did think it was cute and totally fun that a couple of kids could inadvertently start WWIII! Well, almost. Matthew Broderick is so young! He looks so young today that I forget how young he looked when he was really young, which is really young! At his best (or second best) here.

12. Sixteen Candles (Hughes, 1984)
John Hughes, Teen-Queen Molly, requiting unrequited love... what more do you need from a teen-flick? Nada! I love the daily embarrassment of life that is captured by Hughes & Ringwald. It rings true, doesn't it? When you are a teen, everything is embarrassing, and then you are hit with just mortifying moments as well. Though thankfully not quite this mortifying -- at least not most of the time:

Grandma Helen: Oh Sam, let me take a look at you. Fred, she's gotten her boobies.
Grandpa Fred: I better get my magnifying glass. Ha Ha Ha.
Grandma Helen: Oh, and they are so PERKY.
[reaches to cup them]
Samantha: I can't believe my grandmother actually felt me up.

11. Pretty In Pink (Deutch, 1986)
Molly, Molly, Bo-bolly, Banana-Fanna-Fo-olly, Me My Mo-Olly, Molly! Molly, Molly, Bo-bolly, Banana-Fanna-Fo-olly, Me My Mo-Olly, Molly! Molly, Molly, Bo-bolly, Banana-Fanna-Fo-olly, Me My Mo-Olly, Molly!

10. Real Genius (Coolidge, 1985
Val Kilmer was yummilicious and hysterical. I remember thinking that I was watching the naughtiest thing because they joked about penises. Ah youth. The finale is truly inspired: vengeance by giant popcorn ball to the music of Tears for Fears (My fave T4F song no less - "Everybody Wants to Rule the World.") I never tired of watching this one. Oh I am feeling nostalgic. Let's watch it again!

9. Can't Buy Me Love (Rash, 1987
Fantastic, even if formulaic. Guy crosses the dork-cool divide to become hot guy on campus, only to find the cruel truth of his own character: he willingly sacrifices the ones he loves to achieve his goal. But of course, we get the ultimate happy ending when he sees the error of his ways. Ugh. I had such a crush on Patrick Dempsey. Key scene: when everyone at the school dance does the African Anteater Ritual Dance (or whatever it was) just because they see the cool guy do it. Can you say baa?

8. Footloose (Ross, 1984)
Always come back to this one. It's just such a celebratory movie. Ends on such a high, such a success for those rascally kids. And Kevin Bacon was coo-ool.

Chuck: I thought only pansies wore neckties.
Ren: See that? I thought only assholes used the word "pansy".

7. Mystic Pizza (Petrie, 1988)
A teen movie for the thinking chick. Goes beyond the usual teen issues and deeper into social issues of race, class, sibling issues, turbulent relationships, and babysitters boinking the dad! OK, so they may have been slightly older teens, but it still qualifies - check my criteria if you don't believe me. Julia is great as the town hottie, Annabeth Gish & Lili Taylor make wonderfully complicated side-kicks with kicks of their own, and what the heck was in that pizza? I still love catching this one on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It goes perfectly with PJs and ice cream.

6. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Hughes, 1986)
Undeniable classic. Nuff said?

Economics Teacher-- brilliantly played by Ben Stein with his signature droning monotone: In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the... Anyone? Anyone?... the Great Depression, passed the... Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?... raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects?...

5. Running on Empty (Lumet, 1988)
We thought we had it tough coming of age, didn't we? Well, unlike River, we didn't come of age in a crook family constantly on the lam. Ok, only a film nerd such as myself would put a Lumet movie high up on a teen-flick list. But that's me, Film Nerd Numero Uno! This was just such a great story! And yes, my teen hormones compelled me to love any movie starring a cutie in the ranks of River.

4. Say Anything (Crowe, 1989)
One of the biggest, most moving, and most memorable moments in movie history: John Cusack doing the I-love-you-dammit serenade, 80s-style; with a boom-box held aloft to enchant his lady love. So memorable in fact, that the memory has virtually wiped out any memory I have of the rest of the movie. Except maybe for this...

Lloyd Dobler: I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that.

3. The Lost Boys (Schumacher, 1987)
I was kind of a morbid teen. Thanks in part to Anne Rice, I had a minor obsession with the, uh, dark side. My college roommate told me she thought I was a total freak when she walked into our dormroom one day and found me in pitch black with candles burning, watching a vampire movie. "I'm feeling dark," I think I told her. ooooooooooooook. As a connoisseur of the genre, I can say that The Lost Boys is actually one of the better vampire movies ever made. It was a teen transformation movie like Teen Wolf or Once Bitten but more, um, biting, ha! The soundtrack was amazing. It managed to put the famous Coreys to good use as light-hearted foils to the darkness of Jason Patric's experience. (who was, by the way, gorgeous.) Man! I need to get a copy of this.

2. Heathers (Lehmann, 1989)
Everyone hates those annoying snots who think they rule the school. For some people that hate can lead to death. In our 80s innocence, we thought that homicidal desire brought to fruition worked as a comedy, albeit a dark one. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, the young generation of Hollywood that rose to power in the 90s, star in this very smart film. Also visible is a pre-90210 Shannon Doherty. If you haven't seen this one, you missed the end of the 80s altogether. Go home and fill in the gap! That's an order!

1. The Breakfast Club (Hughes, 1985)
Was there ever any doubt as to what would hold the number one position? To make your own ultimate-success 80s teen flick take three parts John Hughes (writer-director-co-producer), one part Molly Ringwald, put in confined high-school setting, stir in additional brat packers, season with mysterious wrongs all have committed, add breaking the boundaries of their roles (the jock, the nerd, etc.) to taste, and voila! A wonderful creation; just enough fluff, just enough meat, just enough bite. Genius! This movie is undeniably the best teen movie of the 80s and possibly the best ever. I have watched it countless times. It is so beloved it has spawned homages (An episode of Dawson's Creek), spoofs (Not Another Teen Movie), and undoubtedly tons of rip offs (though I can't think of any specifically right now.) This movie is part of the best that the 80s had to offer.

And the runners up are...
21. Better Off Dead - John Cusack wise cracks his way through another movie...
22. One Crazy Summer - and another.
23. Friday the 13th - Kids camp in the woods hoping for some al fresco nookie, and get some al fresco murder instead. One, by one, by one.
24. Hiding Out - Jon Cryer, wanted by the mob, must hide out in, horrors, high school -- à la Never Been Kissed. Best part - his alias, Maxwell Houser (was looking at a coffee can, when he came up with it.)
25. Karate Kid - The kid that crane-kicked his way into our hearts.
26. The Outsiders - The movie that gave us young Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Esteves, and Diane Lane, before they were big. (oh and don't forget Ralph Macchio and C. Thomas Howell.)
27. Risky Business/All the right Moves - Tom Cruise teen flicks. Football star, Lea Thompson, Rebecca De Mornay, dancing in underwear... Now, if I could only remember which was which.

See you next time!

P.S. I hope everyone had an excellent Secularmas!

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