I’ve spent a great deal of time discussing the greatness that was the movie class of 1994. Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, Dumb and Dumber and The Lion King were all released during that calendar year. Many critics have declared 1994 as best year of movies ever. It’s a bold statement that I have agreed with myself, but this summer I began to question that idea. This year marks the 30th anniversary for another year of films that deserve more respect. The Class of 1984.
Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, Footloose, Gremlins, Romancing the Stone, The Terminator, Amadeus, The Neverending Story, Starman, Sixteen Candles and Beverly Hills Cop all were released in the year of 1984. That’s an impressive list with a slew of other films not mentioned. As much as I love the films that make up the class of ’94, I may have been backing the wrong year all this time. The greatness of the class of 1984 got me thinking. What are the best 80’s movies of all time? I’m not just talking about a film that was released in the decade. I’m talking about a movie that captures the time and place that was the 1980s. I’m looking for the four best films that capture the 80s.
Here’s the rules. The film had to be released in the 1980s, took place in the 1980s and captured the feel of the decade. Sorry Dirty Dancing and Stand By Me fans. Those movies took place in a different decade. Understand the rules? Good. So let’s get to ‘The 4: 80’s Movies’.
Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
Our first selection comes from the class of 1984. The nerd persecution of the 80s is on full display in Revenge of the Nerds. In the 80s it was cool to be a jock and you were a nerd if you had a computer. My – have the times changed with parents pulling their kids out of sports and putting them in front of the computer instead. Revenge of the Nerds is perfect example of the raunchy R-Rated comedies that were everywhere in the 80s. The Tri-Lambs used their brains to outwit the jocks and earn the respect of their fellow classmates at Adams College. Names like Booger, Ogre and Poindexter became classic movie characters thanks to the film. Revenge of the Nerds also makes it mark as an 80s movie, because it wouldn’t work as remake. Nerds are cool these days. They’re not the same pocket protector wearing goof balls of the early 1980s, so it would be hard to make a movie mocking them. Plus, I’m not sure what today’s audiences would think of Gilbert’s sexual assault on Betty in the moon room or the voyeur fetish the nerds enjoy at the expense of the Pi House. No wonder the remake was scrapped after a few days of shooting. Revenge of the Nerds provided a glimpse into the future where nerds ruled the world.
Pretty in Pink (1986)
This pick goes out to all the ladies out there. Pretty in Pink was the last film to find a spot on this list beating out films like Valley Girl, Wall Street and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Although billed as comedy, Pretty in Pink is actually a drama about the social classes you are assigned to in life. Molly Ringwald plays, Andie, a girl from the other side of the tracks who falls for yuppie, Blane (Andrew McCarthy). The two have a connection, but there different cultures of friends don’t mix. Pretty in Pink just screams the 80s. The tacky clothes that Andie makes herself, the soundtrack featuring “If You Leave” and it has an essential element of what defines an 80’s movie – James Spader playing an absolute Yuppie jerk. Plus, Andie’s job at a record store would not exist in today’s age, because there are no more record stores. Pretty in Pink also gave us Jon Cryer as the desperate Duckie who with his 80’s wardrobe alone earns Pretty and Pink a spot on this list.
Red Dawn (1984)
I lived just south of Washington D.C. in the 1980s and everyone thought the Russians were going to nuke us at some point. It was a real fear and Red Dawn played off this threat. Red Dawn takes place in alternate universe where the Russians successfully invade America. The scenario that plays out in Red Dawn is very plausible for the time with the United Nations crumbling leaving America standing on its own. A band of Colorado youths lead by the Eckert brothers (Patrick Swayze & Charlie Sheen) head for the mountain and fight off the Russian/Cuban forces guerrilla style adopting the name “Wolverines”. Red Dawn also marks a landmark for the decade. The film was the first PG-13 movie to be released. Most kids played Red Dawn in the woods behind their homes shouting “Wolverines” as if they were C. Thomas Howell’s Daryl taking out a Soviet chopper. Red Dawn captures the fear of the decade and that cannot be duplicated since the Cold War is over. Plus we all know how well the Red Dawn remake worked out further establishing its spot among great 80s movies.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
If there is a number one on this list. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is it. Every kid wanted to be Ferris Bueller after the summer of 1986. Everyone adored him and thought he was a righteous dude. Ferris represented a change in the 80s class structure on film. Ferris wasn’t a jock. The guy was actually kind of nerdy. Like Ferris states “I asked for a car. I got a computer”. Ferris used his mind and his charm to win everybody over, well except for his sister Jeannie (Jennifer Grey) and Principal Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) in classic scene stealing roles. The film is full of musical montages that can only be found in an 80’s movie. The kids are rebelling against authority which is another prime example of an 80’s flick. If you needed another reason this film should be a the top of the list, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was written and directed by 80’s movie king John Hughes. The film gets better and better with each viewing and is probably one of the deeper teen films of the 1980s in retrospective. Trying to remake this film in any other time or place would be considered blasphemy. Ferris Bueller you’re my hero.
Thanks to Drew Garabo from 102.5 The Bone for helping me out with this very special ‘The 4’ on 44 on the Town. Here’s Drew’s picks.
Fast Times at Ridgemont (1982)
The Ultimate 80’s film. Represents valley girls, surfers, metal heads and jocks.
Wall Street (1987)
Greed is good. The slogan of the 1980s.
Rocky IV (1985)
I must break you. What sums up the 80s more than the U.S.A. versus the U.S.S.R.?
Krush Groove (1985)
Fat Boys, RUN-DMC, Beastie Boys! The 1980s is where rap got it’s birth.
So what four movies do you think captured the 1980s?