Archive for April 24th, 2008

How about a nice game of chess?

The other night, I watched War Games.  I’ve probably seen it a hundred times, but it really hits me every time.  Not that globalthermonuclear war is a bad idea, or that hacking into computers can mean big trouble, or even that just because your son Joshua died doesn’t mean you should give up on the living, but that 80s movies are so great!!!  Why is it that no one makes movies like this anymore?  As most of you know, I was really enamored of Kevin Williamson (Dawson’s Creek, Scream) for awhile because I felt like he was breathing new life into the genre that had been dormant for some time.  But I haven’t seen anything from him for awhile now and even John Hughes couldn’t do it alone.  So, let’s reminisce and dissect what makes 80s movies, like Some Kind of Wonderful, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, The Karate Kid, Can’t Buy Me Love, Say Anything, Footloose, War Games, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Dirty Dancing, St. Elmo’s Fire, & The Breakfast Club so great:

(1) great dialogue.  Who can forget lines like, “What’s the president of the Young Democrats doing working for a Republican senator?” “Moving up.”  Or, “Where’s your brain?” “Why’d you kick me?” “Where’s your brain?” “Why’d you kick me?”  Or, “Joe lies.  Joe lies.  Joe lies, when he cries.”

(2) social issues.  From Footloose’s commentary on censorship and book burning, to Pretty in Pink’s take on class issues, to War Games full-on assault on the Cold War, no one has been able to combine super cheesy fun with social issues like teen 80s movies.

(3) great romance.  This one’s a bit complicated because there are a couple of patterns these movies tend to have in this department.  There’s the best friend syndrome, which worked out well for Mary Stuart Masterson with Eric Stoltz, but not so great for Jon Cryer with Molly Ringwald.  But Andrew McCarthy’s gaze at Molly Ringwald at the end of Pretty in Pink could melt Lake Monona in January.  Then there’s just sort of the easy relationship Ally Sheedy and Matthew Broderick had, which was cute.  Then there’s the beautiful girl falls for the nerdy guy, but the nerdy guy is either Patrick Dempsey or John Cusack.

(4) memorable names.  Ren McCormick.  Amanda Jones.  Blaine, Steph, Andie & Duckie.  Ferris Bueller.  Cameron & Sloane.  Lloyd Dobler & Diane Court.  Jake Ryan.  Daniel-son.

(5) soundtracks.  This one obviously needs no explanation.

What else?  I feel like there’s a lot more to say on this topic and I know I left off a lot of folks’ fave movies  — like Real Genius & Better Off Dead & Flashdance, but Flashdance never really did it for me and I don’t know what to do with Val Kilmer.  Hmm.  I think I need to give this some more thought.

 


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