So we decided that this week is 80s movie week in at the ODonnellWeb World Headquarters. My impressions of movies I have not seen in at least a few years below.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Holds up better than I expected it would. The gratuitous nudity and drug use would probably not be happening in a movie targeted at teens in 2021, but the iconic scenes and lines mostly still stick their landings. Mr. Hand is still hilarious, and statutory rape is still statutory rape. I will say that scene was not particularly unrealistic though. 20 something year old dudes working the high schools was absolutely a thing. The movie is obviously played for laughs, but the emotions the characters were dealing with were feelings any 16-year-old in 1982 was painfully familiar with.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
There comes a point in a man’s life when he is rewatching Ferris Bueller for the umpteenth time, and he finally recognizes an unescapable truth.
Ferris is the asshole.
That moment for me was years ago and in a way, that freedom makes watching the movie even more fun. As a ridiculous 90 minutes of teenage escapism, the movie holds up very well, especially if you ignore the huge plot holes that you probably missed at age 16. Like, how did Sloan know the nurse was coming for her in class? It’s obvious later in the movie she wasn’t in on the plan that day, and how the hell did Ferris pay for that day? He doesn’t have a job and his parents clearly aren’t giving him a $100/week allowance. What high school in 1986 had a computer system that was accessible via modem? Also, how did his sister not recognize Mr. Rooney in her kitchen, and how did the cops not find his wallet on the floor to substantiate Jeannie’s story about an intruder?
It’s still a great movie though.
Pretty in Pink
Today is my wife’s birthday, and she picked the movie. I had no choice.
Pretty in Pink is not one of those flicks that I have rewatched a dozen times since the 80s. Honestly, I barely remembered the plot and in many ways was seeing it for the first time. It certainly does not hold up as well as Ferris Bueller. First, the whole rich kids / poor kids thing just feels so forced. Maybe it’s because I grew up in DoD schools where that dynamic didn’t really exist. In my memory of the 80s, and cute girl was a cute girl and nobody was going to stop talking to their best friend because they were dating a cute girl from the wrong side of the tracks.
Second, the poor kids are wearing way more interesting clothes and listening to way more interesting music. Maybe that is how it really worked in the 80s? I was a jeans and concert t-shirt metal head. I have little experience with either group, but it just seemed to me the “poor” kids were way more interesting. It didn’t feel like the movie was trying to make that point.
Third, Duckie is basically stalking Andi.
Fourth. Andi lives on the wrong side of the tracks in Chicago. Shouldn’t there be at least of a couple of kids of color in her class? I mean, come on. It’s freaking Chicago.
Sixteen Candles, which is way more problematic with racism, at least sort of felt like it wasn’t taking itself seriously. Pretty in Pink absolutely wants to be a serious movie, and it’s not a particularly good one.
Released in 1985 at the height of Reagan’s Star Wars shenanigans, it features idealistic college kids taking on the defense-industrial complex (which has always included higher ed) when they realize the laser they just perfected is actually a secret government weapon.
It’s got a good 80s soundtrack, a generally wholesome message of the smart kids being the good guys, and as a PG rated film the sex and drug related content required in every 80s movie is more hinted at than explicit, 10-inch spikes notwithstanding.
Given the lack of change in the defense industrial complex, it holds up shockingly well,and I might even say remains relevant.
Also, my wife insists she had never seen it prior to last week. How is that possible?
Thursday night at trivia we learned that Breck has never seen Risky Business. That made the final movie choice for the week easy. This movie is such an 80s period piece. Actually now that I think about it, there is a pretty straight line from Joel to Bud Fox in Wall Street a few years later.
It has all the hallmarks of the yuppie years. Teenagers obsessed with getting into the right college to make a lot of money. Teens obsessed with the Porsche. Teens obsessed with sex. Okay, that one probably isn’t so 80s centric. It’s almost a weird art film attempt at a teen coming of age comedy. You can literally see Joel become the stereotype Tom Cruise character as the movie progresses.
The WTF line gets all the attention, but for me the line of the movie is delivered by the always great Curtis Armstrong, “I don’t believe this! I’ve got a Trig midterm tomorrow, and I’m being chased by Guido the killer pimp.”
It’s still entertaining, and of course Risky Business would never get made today. But the re-watchability of it is not on par with Fast Times or Ferris or Real Genius. It's too 80s, and not in the nostalgic sense that Fast Times captures. It's simply just dated.
And that’s a wrap on 80s movie week. There are definitely plenty more movies to revisit, so I think we will do this again soon.