I’ve been “immersing” myself in ’80s movies as of late, since I will be playing in an ’80s movies-themed trivia night tonight. One of my teammates just tipped me off about Rolling Stone’s “reader’s choice” list of the 25 best movies from the ’80s, so I thought it would be fun to review this list, especially since trivia question writers just might mine it for questions. A couple of those films from Rolling Stone’s list did make my top 11, and some of them would probably make my top 25!
And here I go with a list of MY favorite 1980s movies! There are NO John Hughes movies on this list (though Ferris Bueller’s Day Off would be an honorable mention). This list goes to 11…because it’s my blog and I say this list goes to 11, dammit! Speaking of “Going to 11,” This Is Spinal Tap is one of my favorite movies, but didn’t make my top 11 from the 1980s!
My 11 Favorite Movies From the 1980s (in no particular order)
1. The Naked Gun – From the Files of Police Squad (1988)
Here, Frank Drebin in From The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad does a poor job of consoling the wife of officer Nordberg, whom was played by O.J. Simpson. This movie is…simply put, comedy at its best. Slapstick, double entendres, sight gags, etc. There is also a great story to go along with all of the laughs! The scene with the sheet cake with the Queen of England’s face on it busted me up the first time I saw this in theaters – and I was the only one in the theater to laugh (awkward)!
2. Airplane! (1980)
In Airplane! “Otto” the Autopilot takes the controls of the plane while Julie Hagerty and Leslie Nielsen watch. This was probably one of the first “comedies” I ever saw in theaters and I was only 8. My parents had taken me to see lots of “serious” movies up until this point, including many “Oscar fodder” films, and this one was truly a breath of fresh air! I am positive I didn’t get all of the jokes when I first saw this, so I guess you could say that as I grew up with this movie, I came to appreciate it more and more! So many great “straight men” in this (for comedy purposes, not sexual ortientation – though there is a gay male character named Johnny). I LOVE this kind of deadpan stuff, ridiculous things uttered with a straight face…gets me every time! I still enjoy this movie to this day. After you’ve seen this, you will never look at Ethel Merman the same way again!
3. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
In Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Michael Caine and Steve Martin play dueling con artists in a very lovely French Riviera setting. Here, Caine passes Martin off as his dimwitted brother “Ruprecht,” in what is one of the absolutely funniest scenes in movie history (imho). Just look up “Ruprecht scene” on YouTube. If you don’t laugh your ass off watching this, then I’ll give you your money back…but wait….you didn’t give me any money (LOL). This is a movie well worth watching again and again. Glenne Headly holds her own with the two male leads quite well, too! The scene at the end where she puts her arms around both of them and says “Let’s get ’em” as they proceed to do a big con of a large group of tourists – STILL sends shivers down my spine…
4. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Pee Wee locking up his bike in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, which (of course) ends up getting stolen anyway, driving the movie’s whole plot. I saw this one multiple times when it was released, and still enjoy watching it today. This is dark comedy at its best and there are WAY too many memorable scenes to list! The “Large Marge” scene was a jaw-dropper in most theaters…Phil Hartman is credited as a writer on this one (did you know)?
5. Better Off Dead (1985)
John Cusack and Curtis Armstrong in Better Off Dead talk about skiing the “K12,” the fictional mountain in Better Off Dead. This is kind of a spoof on Fast Times at Ridgemont High and even shares two cast members in common, but it’s still a worthwhile dark comedy on its own! Cusack plays a lovelorn character named Lane,who attempts suicide repeatedly after getting dumped by his vapid girlfriend Beth. Happily, he eventually finds new love with a French foreign exchange student living with a very, very weird host family.
6. One Crazy Summer (1986)
John Cusack and Demi Moore in One Crazy Summer, which is set on Nantucket. Great screwball ensemble cast and intriguing storyline involving an evil lobster restaurant developer who listens to lobsters screech while he’s boiling them (among other things), and his spoiled, simpering, preppy son. The scene where Bobcat Goldthwaite’s character loses his shit and destroys preppy boy’s Ferrari is one of the movie’s best scenes…Later, preppy boy gets to see his Ferrari engine sitting in the rear of a sailboat during a regatta (revenge is a dish best served in the stern of a sailboat, lol).
7. Die Hard (1988)
Bet you thought this list would be all silly comedies, didn’t you? Yes, I love comedies, I’ll admit that! I also really, really like this one…Bruce Willis is so relentless – and smart-ass in Die Hard! Plus, there is plenty of other eye candy for the ladies in this one (wink-wink). But John McClane’s badassery is THE reason to see this one, and also the sequel Die Hard 2, but since it was released in 1990, it doesn’t meet the criteria for this list! Did you know the reason most of the scenes in this were shot at night is because Bruce Willis was filming “Moonlighting” at the time? Stay tuned for a movie featuring his “Moonlighting” co-star coming up in a bit!
8. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Leia and Han give in briefly to their sexual tension in this Millennium Falcon scene from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. This is the best of all of the Star Wars films, imho. The dark tone, the harsh settings of both Hoth and Dagobah, the Imperial Walkers, and the sleek look of Cloud City – in addition to the storyline involving Han being hunted by Bounty Hunters, and Luke facing Darth Vader and his “dark side” all make this one a pretty damn good movie! Oh yeah…and Yoda is in it! Yoda is THE reason to see this! MUPPETS!
9. Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Keanu Reeves as Ted and Alex Winter as Bill in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure do their best poker faces with Billy the Kid in this time-travel adventure. Yes, this is kind of a dumb movie. But I am a history lover at heart, and the casting really couldn’t be beat! I was convinced the producers really had gone back in time to get the “real” Napoleon to be in this movie! In this movie, the two main “dudes” have to ace their history report or else it’s military school – and they are aided by a time machine that doubles as a phone booth. The future fate of the world rests on whether these two manage to ace their oral history exam. If you’re a celebrity spotter (like I am), Jane Wiedlin from the Go-Gos (below) will just melt your heart as Joan of Arc!
10. Chances Are (1989)
I was in a car accident the night I saw Chances Are in theaters. I really love the whole “reincarnation” story in this and all of the awkward moments that entail. The dead soul of Cybill Shepherd’s husband, Louie, is in the body of Robert Downey Jr’s character, for starters. And her daughter is in love with Robert Downey Jr.s “Louie” character, though his soul is actually her dad! If Robert Downey Jr. isn’t enough eye candy for you (wink-wink), then maybe feast your eyes on Mary Stuart Masterson (she is SO adorable in this one, check out the photo below), or even..Cybill Shepherd! I normally hate rom-coms, but for this one, I’ll make an exception!
Mary Stuart Masterson and Robert Downey Jr. in Chances Are. Is this picture kind of like the one from Empire Strikes Back? LOL…
11. Heathers (1988)
OK, perhaps I’m a bit biased because my name is Heather! Here Heather Chandler (as Kim walker) tears Veronica (Winona Ryder) a new one after Veronica pukes at a frat party. This is still one of my favorite movies to this day. Dark comedy, murders staged to appear as suicides and so much ’80s hair your drain will clog just from watching it! Winona Ryder is just so…fetching in this one, too! This movie has some of the best one-liners and dialogue of any ’80s movie hands down! Oh, why not…here’s an extra picture to end this blog! Winona Ryder in Heathers (y’all are welcome)!